This is pretty straightforward.
WEST BEND — When the West Bend School District’s Board of Education met Oct. 29, Sally Heuer, a West Bend West teacher and member of the executive board of the West Bend Educators Association, voiced concerns about the lack of accountability and follow through for a compensation plan that allows teachers to earn stipends for meeting certain requirements like professional development.
The teachers claimed they were never told by the district there would be no stipend while they continued to work toward those requirements outside of the school day, on their own time and at their expense.
At the meeting, dozens of teachers sat in the audience to show their support as Heuer reminded the Board they have held up their end of the deal and trusted the district administration would hold up theirs.
In response to Heuer and the WBEA’s concerns, David Hammelman, human resources director for the West Bend School District, said administration turnover was to blame for teachers not being paid the stipends they worked for in the 2017-18 school year. He said the district is going to make a new plan for the year and revise the teacher salary framework.
There is a contract or there isn’t. Irrespective of whether or not one thinks the compensation plan is a good one or not, if the district agreed to a compensation plan with employees, then the district needs to pay up. Gross management incompetence is no excuse. And yes, failing to pay your employees correctly because you failed to manage staff transitions is gross management incompetence.
A compensation plan was adopted by the School Board in 2014 that set out specific goals to be met by teachers for any additional pay over and above the base salary. One of the provisions was that reimbursement for professional development had to be approved by the administration to ensure it was applicable to the position and therefore beneficial to the district. Some may recall that immediately after adoption, the union started attacking the plan because it included both objective pay-for-performance targets as well as some subjective evaluation parameters.
Recent boards dismantled the testing and evaluation position, avoided any further talk of teacher accountability, presided over tremendous administrator turnover and effectively rendered the 2014 compensation plan inoperable without ever replacing it. Although all of these steps followed the union’s wishes to a tee, the system did not automatically revert to pre-Act10 conditions, where almost any classes or added degrees resulted in pay increases.
If the continuing education was pre-approved, the stipends should be paid; if done under other expectations, they shouldn’t.