Bill Could Affect Teacher Pay

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The future of HB 2830 is cloudy, but if passed it could ease the burden on local taxpayers and help improve teachers' overall salary schedule by doing away with the Career Ladder Program.

Completely understanding the bill, however, is a daunting task.

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Students could be the beneficiaries of HB 2830, which could improve teacher salary schedules by shifting tax loads.

"It's very complicated," said Payson School District Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Bobette Sylvester.

HB 2830 has been tagged the "school finance reform" bill.

Provisions of the bill would "eliminate all state and local funding for Career Ladder Programs" and "eliminate all state and local funding for Excess Utilities."

While that sounds like a huge financial blow to local schools, other provisions in the bill would allow districts to receive the money spent in 2005-2006 for Career Ladder from state funds.

Currently, some of the Career Ladder monies are paid out of the local tax levy.

Which means, if the money is received from the state budget rather than local taxes, taxpayers would receive a break.

However, there most certainly will be a sticking point in the bill among the state's public school teachers.

Most Career Ladder programs are performance-based evaluation systems divided into three levels and designed to allow movement from one level to the next.

The higher the level, the greater the pay.

Career Ladder teachers are required to save portfolios that demonstrate collaboration with a school site mentor, personal growth and achievement, staff development and student achievement on tests and assessments.

If HB 2830 passes, some teachers worry there is no guarantee the Career Ladder money taken away would be returned to them in the form of a more lucrative districtwide salary schedule.

"That would be up to the individual districts," Sylvester said.

The controversy of HB 2830 and elimination of Career Ladder would be huge in the Payson district where a clear majority of the teachers participate in the program.

Some veteran members of Career Ladder can supplement their salary schedule pay by as much as $5,000 per year.

The upside of the bill for educators is that if districts do use the returned Career Ladder funds to improve salary schedules it could equalize districts around the state in the amounts teachers are paid.

Currently, some districts without Career Ladder programs cannot compete for good teachers with those that do have them because of differences in salary.

In the Payson district, some of the formula changes included in HB 2830 would result in an increase of $135,000 in state monies received locally.

"It (the bill) would also eliminate some of the red tape of Career Ladder laws," Sylvester said.

Sylvester isn't sure the bill will become law, but if it fails there is a possibility that portions of it could "come back" in state budget negotiations.

Currently, the bill is being heard in committee. It is sponsored by District 4 Republican Tom Boone and Russell Jones, a District 24 Republican.

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