Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

November 28, 2013

New teacher pay to look at additional work

By Heather Mullinix
Assistant editor

CROSSVILLE — Cumberland County is continuing to develop a differentiated pay plan for teachers that will reward teachers for taking on additional roles or responsibilities.

Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative to the Cumberland County Board of Education, said, "[Differentiated pay] is very upsetting to teachers and pits teacher against teacher. I applaud this framework. It's the best possible framework for our people. It's the law so we have to do it, but make it as fair as we can possibly be to our teachers."

The plan comes following notification the state will enforce a 2007 law calling for development of differentiated compensation plans for teachers based on additional responsibilities, hard-to-staff schools or subject areas and performance based on teacher evaluations. The additional compensation can't be based solely on years of service and advanced degrees.

Cumberland County's proposed plan will provide additional compensation for teachers who score 4 or 5 on teacher evaluations and take on the role of lead teacher, PLC leader or professional development presenters.

Funding will come from additional state funds, but Rebecca Wood, assistant director of curriculum instruction and accountability, said the school district would need additional funding to implement the final plan. How much won't be known until final Basic Education Plan funding is released.

In December, teachers will be surveyed regarding strategic compensation in general and the additional roles.

"The PLCs are a suggestion, but we want to hear from the teachers what roles are vital in their schools," Wood told the board.

She recommends the board appoint a task force next month, which will include members of the board, to work with teachers and the administrative team on the plan. The school district is working with teachers through collaborative conferencing, as well.

In January, the district will receive preliminary BEP funding estimates. A final draft of the plan should be ready for BOE approval in February and would need to be submitted for final approval by the state.

Julia Timson, Cumberland County Education Association representative, said, "We can't pit teacher against teacher. It's not fair and it causes me not to want to share strategies of what I'm doing."

She pointed to the recent success Brown Elementary had achieved with the SCORE Prize award. Teachers and administrators may not be willing to share strategies with other schools if their pay is tied to performance.

She noted such strategies may be effective in the corporate world, but that it was not a strategy that worked in the school system.

"It's a different kind of business we do," Timson said.

The board also discussed an evaluation of the director and a board self-evaluation, with the board planning a day-long training on boardsmanship. Also, board policy states the annual evaluation of the director of schools will be done in June. The board voted to move that to January.

In an update on the school nutrition program, it was learned there is a 78 percent participation rate in the school lunch program, and a 41 percent participation in school breakfast. That is well above the national average.

Kathy Hamby, supervisor of the school nutrition program, noted schools had a decrease in school lunch participation last year when new federal regulations were implemented. Those have mostly rebounded this year, with only a few schools showing a continued decrease. She is working with the nutrition program staff at those schools to see what can be done to increase participation.

Hamby said the program was trying to find better products that met the strict nutritional guidelines, in hopes of improving student acceptance of the nutritional changes.

The summer feeding program has continued to grow, serving 18,341 lunches, 6,661 breakfasts, 6,264 snacks and 1,434 dinners this summer at 21 feeding sites.

The county has 66.05 percent of students meeting the eligibility for free and reduced meals.

In other business, the board approved the 2103 Tennessee Department of Education LEA Compliance Report, verifying the district was in compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations.