New Compensation Plan Being Considered for West Bend Schools

From the Washington County Daily News

WEST BEND -— The school district’s teacher compensation committee met with the school board and other informative figures to discuss a recently developed teacher compensation plan, which is close to its final version and should be implemented by June.

The committee had eight meetings over the past five months, but this week marked the first time for the school board to hear recommendations. No votes were cast or decisions made; it was an informational committee meeting to share updates.

[…]

The replacement is not what he called a “step and lane” model, the commonly-used plan prior to Act 10 that correlates a teacher’s further education with increased salary.

“That model doesn’t address teacher performance, and we want to recognize our top performing teachers and those who are proactive,” Ongert said. “I truly believe this model will reward teachers based on things they’ve earned.”

[…]

Being competitive with nearby districts is important as well, he said, and West Bend is among the leaders in the area.

This model, although in its early stages, does that, Ongert said. It rewards teachers for continuing education either related to their educational emphasis or in courses related to literacy, as that is an area of emphasis within the district.

Where some members disagreed was in determining whether or not a teacher would be eligible for a pay

increase based on the district’s estimation of their professional future.

West Bend teacher Tanya Lohr disagreed with the district’s role in determining the mobility of a teacher. She said it is not their place to tell a teacher they have no future within a different area of the district and, therefore, would not pay for additional education in that area. Ongert said these type of leadership and mobility discussions happen frequently in other career fields and it is appropriate for the district to decide not to reward a teacher for a position they do not see themselves moving into in the future.

[…]

“It has to be financially viable because the school district only has so much money, and we can’t be promising teachers pay raises and bonuses if we can’t afford it,” Ongert said. “We’re using taxpayer dollars to pay our employees, so it has to be a plan that’s sustainable.”

I especially like Ongert’s last comment in the excerpt. The purpose of a compensation plan is to attract and retain talent, motivate behavior in alignment with the organization’s goals, and keep costs to the minimum level needed to accomplish that purpose. In the small window into this discussion, it appears that the district is considering a merit-based system again. That’s great – as long as the system includes sticks as well as carrots. A good comp plan should reward great employees, but also encourage bad employees to improve or move on. It should not be a system where everyone gets a trophy. Otherwise, it is just adding cost for no good purpose.

Also, I’m glad that they have a committee giving feedback to the board. Employee feedback is always good. The School Board should, however, take the committee’s feedback for what it is: input from one of several stakeholder groups in the district. The committee is made up completely by employees of the district – most of them teachers. In fact, six members of the WBEA (teachers union) leadership, including the union president, ended up on this committee (That’s actually pretty interesting considering that there are almost 500 teachers.) The committee is basically a union negotiation under another name. They will, of course, advocate for their financial interests. As would I. As would you. It is up to the School Board to weigh those interests against those of the students, taxpayers, district residents, administrators, and other stakeholders to come up with a plan that best moves the district forward in its mission of educating kids.

 

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