I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Differentiated Pay Scale--Just One of Many Possible Ideas...

As I posted earlier this month, I think a creative way to keep experienced veteran teachers in the inner-city classrooms (keeping more from migrating to the less challenging suburban schools) would be to establish a differentiated pay scale.  Such a plan would compensate teachers in tough environments with significant, recurring, and cumulative bonus payments yearly that would correspond with their years teaching in high-poverty schools.  The ones illustrated above, which I developed recently, utilize the existing negotiated pay scale for 2011-2012 as a basis.  (I will present this model to the school board and superintendent at this week's open discussion meeting, to see if such an idea would have any support here in Escambia County.)  

These potential scales consist of two tracks, one for Suburban Schools and One for High Poverty Schools.  High poverty schools, for purposes of this one model of a differentiated pay scale shown above, would consist of the 20% of district schools with the highest percentages of populations eligible for free lunch.  Suburban schools would consist of all the rest of the schools in the district.  This first scale is revenue neutral, meaning the pay is assigned utilizing only the monies currently available;  (The subsequent scale is non-revenue neutral) Each year a teacher stays in a tough to staff, high poverty school, that teacher would receive a corresponding bonus equal to the current bonus plus the amounts for the previous steps at which such a teacher worked at high poverty schools.  Conceivably, a teacher who spent their entire career in high poverty schools and reached step 26 on such a scale would be earning $10,000.00 more yearly than their counterparts at suburban 

schools.  If a teacher transferred from a high poverty school into a suburban school, that teacher would lose the corresponding bonuses from the high poverty scale and revert to the suburban schools scale.  Conversely, if a suburban school teacher transferred in to a high poverty school later in his/her career, the bonus amounts earned would start from the bottom of the step scale for high poverty supplements-meaning, for example, that an experienced, veteran teacher who never worked at any high poverty schools their entire career, if such a person at step 20 on the suburban schools track transferred into a high poverty school, that teacher would receive a bonus of $350 for a total compensation of $44,666.48. In a nutshell, someone could not game the system by spending their entire career at a suburban school then moving into a high poverty school near the end of their career with the intention of maxing out their pay.  This would not be allowed to happen.

Obviously such a plan would be a radical departure from our current district pay scale, and such a plan would need to be agreed upon by the entire School Board as a body, as well as the Superintendent. Such a plan would then require negotiations with the teacher's union.  Additionally, if such a scale were to be implemented it would be for new hires and subsequent employees;  Currently employed personnel would be grandfathered and would continue to work under the previously bargained pay scale--unless the legislature mandated otherwise (as the case may be with respect to performance pay scales mandated under SB736.)

Numerous studies have looked into the efficacy of  paying bonuses or higher salaries to maintain experienced teachers in high poverty schools. One such study in  in North Carolina, where a stipend of $1,800 dollars per year was given for experienced teachers to stay in the inner-city schools, showed success by cutting turnover in half in inner city schools.  Other studies point to similar successes, however implementation on a large scale basis has not occurred in public schools in the United States.

Timing could be ripe for such a bold idea to emerge locally, and perhaps the newly mandated requirement for "performance pay" could be molded into or adapted to work within the pay scale illustrated above, essentially solving two issues at once?


Anonymous said...

How about we consider taking the pay from the administrative staff instead of the teacher scale? Hasn't there been a study done that shows how upside down the Escambia School District is when considering the span between administrator pay and teacher pay? Also, how about rewarding all teachers when they take on extra duties? Currently, only certain "jobs" receive supplemental pay (mostly sports related), but so many more teachers do more than just teach. What about the teachers who continually give, give, and give so much they become burned out? Having a salary scale based on years of service is crazy! Why can't educators be paid similar to industry and let pay be based on performance (not just test scores). The K-12 system is so broken, drastic changes must be made immediately!!! Let's start a group to begin a discussion so these suggestions can be heard. Is anyone willing to join this endeavor?

Jeff Bergosh said...

Count me In! I'm willing to entertain any concept that is creative and will allow for teachers to be paid for their efforts in challenging environments (high poverty, diverse demographics, crime-ridden school locations, etc.) I want to incent them to stay in their schools and not leave because right now we have incredible churn rates at several schools and this inconsistency is affecting performance. I support Merit pay, and was vocal in passage locally in 2007 when we were one only 9 out of 67 statewide that got it done. It was not popular and the teacher's union eventually killed that here because they thought it was "not fair". I've also suggested drastic measures during the recession to stop this district from raising tax rates during the latest recession--including administrator pay cuts! When the district faced a fiscal cliff in 2008, I suggested we as a district (including administrators, district personnel, and school board members) take a modest pay cut on a sliding scale based upon one's level of income. ( The way it was structured would have disproportionately affected high-income district employees) to balance the budget and maintain student programs without raising taxes. As you could imagine, I was instantly made a pariah and the proposal was flatly rejected and I was laughed out of the room. Frankly, I'm surprised they didn't put a hit out on me :). We did eventually all take pay cuts through the recession, with the board taking 12% reduction, the second highest cut of any school board of 67 in Florida. Pay cuts are not popular and I am not advocating any existing teacher take a pay cut, but we need to implement some sort of plan that all stakeholders can agree upon going forward (including the teacher's labor union) that will provide stability of the workforce in high poverty schools--the fact that a child can go K-5 at one school of which I am aware and potentially have a 1st year teacher at every grade level while there, that situation MUST change, we need more veterans to stay. And we cannot propose half-measures to do it, we must use FULL MEASURES and be bold, even if sometimes such ideas are unpopular. Yeah, I'm in for sure!

Alice Sohn said...

Jeff, are you speaking of elementary schools here? Teaching in a high-poverty middle- or high-school may not be a challenge at all if one teaches only honors and AP classes, which are the classes most teachers prefer. It's somewhat ironic to suggest extra pay while continuing to evaluate teachers with the most challenging students exactly the same as teachers with the least challenging to teach. Can you imagine the frustration of working with difficult students, watching them grow and begin to achieve and then discover that you don't get the pay increase because your students' test scores (on the exact same test, which many of your students can't read) falls short of the advanced placement students' test scores?
Would someone please tell these "captcha people" that a numeral is not a word.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Alice, I think they're making the captcha more difficult due to infiltration by spammers, and I know it is frustrating trying to read the writing......hopefully they'll get enough blowback to change it. With differentiated pay, it would all depend upon what were able to bargain with the union, and regardless of what some say, the reality is that the union vehemently opposes a widespread model of differentiated pay for teachers, they've shown their cards on this one many times and many places. So, for purposes of illustration only, if I were "the king of the world" like DeCaprio's character in Titanic--I'd develop the plan for elementarry, middle, and high schools ( if they fall in the highest 20% of free lunch percentages districtwide) and teachers who remained in these high poverty locations would receive cumulative, recurring bonuses as I illustrated in the prototype scales, the purpose of which would be to keep veterans in these locations as long as possible, which could help students, particularly elementary kids. But, as you see In the paper, such a plan meets sustained resistance from the guardians of the status quo and also those unwilling to look up from their scripts....but well see how it shakes out through the bargaining, maybe we'll at least get the ball moving up the field. Also, to answer your question from the other thread, I am very concerned about weapons but in truth we've historically done a good job on this front and kids know its a zero tolerance offense if they're caught with weapons--but if you have a better strategy I'm listening.....