Performance Tied To Salary Increases For Teachers

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In a quick succession of fell swoops, Payson Unified School District board members last night approved salary schedules for the 2001-2002 school year.

One after another, board members nodded into the record new salary schedules for certified teachers, classified teachers and school nurses, as well as a new salary range for classified exempt employees.

And as the "yeas" rained down, there was nary a word of dissent from district teachers who had been very vocal in their displeasure with an earlier version of the board's payroll matrix, which in some ways favored beginning teachers over existing and longtime teachers.

The difference between the rejected and accepted pay schedules, said Payson School Superintendent Herb Weissenfels, is that the adopted schedule "reflects a little bit more (money) for people who have been here for a while, and it gives credit for experience and education.

"I think most (district teachers) are happy with this plan," he said. "It has been presented to all of the teachers at the different sites, and for the most part, it was well received."

The new salary schedule will be funded from a variety of sources including existing budget funds that are being shifted from areas that have the least direct effect on students and their education, such as nonsite supplies, staff development at the district level, postage, curriculum development, certain legal and travel expenses, and the elimination of five non-teacher positions.

The adopted schedule also was made possible by Proposition 301. Passed in the last state election, Prop. 301 has raised the state sales tax by six-tenths of one percent, or six cents on $10, to raise additional money for education. Weissenfels has said that 301 would generate $175,000, and possibly more, for the district.

That windfall allowed the board to provide teachers with several salary buffers that were also given a green light by board members Monday starting with a certified performance base plan for Prop. 301 funds which dictates that 40 percent of the available money will be spent to reward teacher performance.

The plan consists of a point system wherein teachers gain points and monetary rewards based on performance, principal evaluation, knowledge acquisition, leadership, student achievement, professional proficiency and improvements in targeted areas.

"Teachers who complete the plan will be the ones eligible to split up that (301) money," Weissenfels said.

"This is not the end product ... it is a living document that can be modified from one year to the next," explained Wendell Stevens, a Payson High School vocational agriculture instructor, during his presentation of the plan. "We wanted a performance pay plan that defines performance ... This plan gives us an opportunity to reward teachers who already deserve performance pay."

The base plan, Stevens said, is designed to be suitable for teachers at all levels and programs.

Also approved, and also a direct descendant of Prop. 301, was a stipend proposal for all district employees who return to work on Aug. 1, the first day of the next school year. In exchange for a signed addendum, they would at that time receive a check not to exceed $1,500 per administrator.

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