A proposed matrix that would have given all teachers an opportunity to earn a bonus through good attendance, extra duties, evaluation scores and staffing hard-to-fill positions has been abandoned in light of limited funds, and administrators are proposing one-time bonuses only for additional roles that aid academic achievement.
"We wanted to spread the wealth as much as possible," Rebecca Wood, assistant director of curriculum, instruction and accountability, told the Cumberland County Board of Education during its April 24 meeting.
The plan looks at extra roles teachers may take and provides a $500 one-time bonus, for a total budget allocation of $150,000.
"Done correctly, these are all big jobs," Wood said. "We had to focus on academics and the time required."
Extra roles that would qualify for the strategic compensation bonus include professional learning communities, TNCore school team leaders, district contributors, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation chairman, response to intervention coordinator if that person is not otherwise compensated, and school-wide positive behavior chairman.
The plan keeps salary increases for earning additional degrees, though some levels were eliminated that provided a pay bump for teachers with a master's and 10, 20 or 30 additional hours of coursework. No teacher will see a decrease in salary because of the change.
Richard Janeway, 2nd District representative, said, "We're looking at having about 300 people on a differentiated pay scale. Would we be better having 75 percent of teachers get a differentiated pay scale which won't differentiate much, or bump the amount for those taking on more responsibility as encouragement for stepping out and being a leader? Where is the reward?"
Julia Timson, Cumberland County Education Association representative, said, "I loved the matrix. Everyone had the opportunity to get a bonus. I'm not going to be a TNCore leader. I'm not going to be a PLC leader because I don't teach reading or math. I could be a district contributor. I've been on our SACS committee, but not the chair, and $500 is not nearly enough for that. I am the school-wide positive behavior chairperson. That's the only bonus I would get, and I put in an extra 60 to 90 hours for my school each month.
"We already do so much we don't get compensated for. I appreciate so much their [strategic compensation committee] work. I begrudgingly said yes to this because I don't feel like it gives everyone a chance at the money. But we don't have the money.
"Gov. Haslam has dropped the ball," Timson continued. "Cumberland County schools has not dropped it. They are choosing to give me something."
Though the state has mandated school systems provide a strategic compensation plan for teachers, funding for implementing the new compensation model has not been included in state revenues.
Dan Schlafer, 9th District representative, said, "Early on, this board was resolute in saying we want to reward teachers for degrees and extra work. You've done that. I wish it could be more money, but it's a good plan."
Janeway moved to approve the plan, which must be submitted to the state for approval. David Bowman, 7th District representative, supported the motion, which was unanimously approved.
The board also approved moving $15,896 from other equipment to the budget for regular instruction equipment to complete the purchase of Partnership for Assessment of College and Career Readiness testing computers with grant funds received last year.
The budget amendment was unanimously approved following a motion by Josh Stone, 4th District representative.