School board approves new teacher compensation plan
New model to incentivize educators for pursuing professional growth
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — The Marshfield School Board voted to approve a new compensation model for teachers at a special meeting on Thursday, March 26. The new salary model will take effect next school year and is designed to help the district retain and attract top level teachers.
The model incentivizes teachers to partake in professional development, assume district leadership positions, and pursue graduate degrees or become National Board Certified. Through these steps teachers can earn what the district refers to as “units.” Every 15 units teachers earn results in a 2 to 6 percent increase of their base salary, which will be added to their supplemental wages. Each single unit earns a teacher an extra $50 in supplemental pay in the subsequent year.
The percentage increase depends on where the teacher falls in the district’s step system, with newer teachers generally having the opportunity to make large gains to catch them up to more tenured educators who earn more money. Generally, where a teacher falls on the step system correlates to their experience in the district, with brand new teachers starting out at step one.
Any teacher that is on a performance improvement plan could still earn units, but any compensation would be deferred to a time when that teacher satisfactorily completes and is no longer on that plan. The model allows the district to determine which master’s degrees are of most value and most needed by the district and provides greater financial rewards to teachers who earn a master’s in those fields.
Collective bargaining is also a part of the model in which teachers can negotiate their base wages at a level not to exceed the consumer price index.
Pat Saucerman, the district’s director of business services, described the model as a “win-win” where teachers can earn greater compensation but only by accruing units that have an inherent value to the district.
“Everybody’s a winner. The employees have the opportunity to make more money. The district is gleaning probably better teachers because of the programs—professional development, etc.—that’s built into this, and obviously the students, which are the most important, they’re the recipient of a more qualified teacher. I don’t see any parts of this thing that are bad,” said School Board Treasurer Pete Mancl.
“This is a great plan. I really like that there are five different methods (to earn extra compensation), and it leaves it up to the individual, what they want to do for extra compensation,” said board member Amber Kiggens-Leifheit.
The one point of contention with the model amongst the school board members was lowering the amount of compensation awarded to a teacher for earning a master’s degree relative to the current model.
“My sole issue is that we are taking something away from the troops on the ground,” said board member Dorothy Chaney.
Since Act 10 passed in 2011, teachers have been unable to earn significant increases in pay based on their longevity or amount of time spent in the district. The current model does award teachers who earn a master’s degree with $6,000 in compensation but provides limited alternate avenues for teachers to increase their salaries in a significant way.
The new model will allocate between about $1,000-$4,000 for the earning of a master’s depending on the value of the degree to the district. Current staff members that have already enrolled in a pre-approved graduate program are grandfathered in under the current model and will receive $6,000 when they complete their degree.
“I don’t disagree with assigning values to the types of master’s degrees. I don’t. What I have sort of some shock and awe about is the level of reduction of the value,” Chaney said.
Board Clerk Mark Critelli in response to the concern about a devalued master’s degree pointed out that the new plan does provide new avenues for teachers to earn additional compensation outside of earning that degree.
“If you look just at the master’s, yeah, it’s less, but there’s a huge add in here,” Critelli said referring to the additional paths through which teachers can increase their compensation under the new plan.
In response to Chaney’s concerns, the board amended part of the model to provide those that earn a master’s degree more units than originally planned, which in effect increases the value of earning a degree by allowing a teacher to accrue units faster.
“Of the 260 or so teachers that we have, less than 100 don’t have their master’s degree already, so we’re not talking about an enormous group of people here that we have to consider additional compensation for, for planning purposes,” Saucerman said.
Saucerman estimated that on average, the new model would pay out about $100,000 more per year districtwide compared to the current model.