By Kate Knight
The Stevens Point school board on Monday passed a recommendation to implement a base wage increase.
The increase, part of the 2014-15 collective bargaining agreement, brings an end to months of negotiation between the district and teachers’ union.
The board vote carried the increase by a vote of 6-2, with dissenting votes from board members Sam Levin and Kim Shirek, to increase the base wage by 0.65 percent for the 2014-15 school year. Board member Lisa Totten, whose husband is a public school teacher, recused herself.
The decision came after failed negotiations prompted SPAEA and the district to declare an impasse in late November. The district had proposed its final offer of the 0.65 percent base wage increase on Nov. 19.
Prior to the passing of the base wage increase recommendation, the board responded to an information-only agenda item also involving teachers’ pay and benefits. Tom Owens, director of business services for the district, also presented the proposed teacher compensation plan.
The supplementary pay plan would provide district teachers with a resource to measure future professional and financial growth. An ad hoc Teacher Pay Plan Committee- comprised of teachers, a district leadership team, cabinet and legal counsel- have worked to develop the plan, which is still in its initial stages.
Board President Meg Erler emphasized to board members and the public that the pay plan is in development and likely to be revised. “This is not the last time you’ll see this,” she said.
“I don’t want us to get caught up in the details tonight,” Erler said, adding that board members and district staff will be “working through this with a fine tooth comb in respect to the details” at a later date.
The proposed plan would essentially provide educators with points for partaking in professional development experiences – personal or district-related – that would translate to a potential pay increase within the proposed pay matrix. The pay plan would include a master list with point values allotted for each activity.
Under the proposed supplementary pay plan, it would be determined at the end of the calendar year as to where a teacher would be placed on the matrix for the following school year, based upon points and/or a new degree earned, if applicable.
“People would earn those points… and get these take-home dollars, as long as the board continues to fund it at those levels,” Owens explained.
Board member Sam Levin said the proposed pay plan looked “like more of a compensation maze or a puzzle.”
“The goal of it is to allow all 500 of those teachers to create their own professional growth plan… that will allow them as an individual to potentially earn more dollars and because of that it’s going to be very complex,” Erler said.
Throughout the informational presentation Erler continued to emphasize to board members that the pay plan committee is still looking at and revising the proposed plan.
“This is by no means done,” she said. “This is a work-in-progress.”
An electronic copy of the plan will be provided to teachers, as well as the list of ad hoc pay plan committee members, who have volunteered to assist fellow teachers in understanding the proposed supplementary pay plan.
Three meetings will be held in January at SPASH and Ben Franklin and P.J. Jacobs junior high schools to present the proposed plan to respective staff members.
Following the January meetings, teachers will receive a survey to gauge the degree of support for the pay plan. The survey results and recommendation will be presented to the board.