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Franklin School Board approves new compensation framework

April 8, 2014

Franklin — Rather than receiving automatic pay raises every year, teachers will now have to prove they deserve the raises.

The Franklin School Board approved a new compensation framework at a meeting March 26 that grants raises for teachers who meet certain "salary enhancements."

Salary enhancements will be based on criteria including time in the district, job expectations, level of responsibility and training. Previously, teachers were paid on a salary schedule that included a raise every year working for the district. They were also able to receive increases on their base salary for taking college courses.

The district began looking at different compensation models in 2011 after the State Legislature passed Act 10, which limited collective bargaining for public employees to base wages.

In order to develop a new framework for teacher compensation, the district sought help from consultant company Verisight. With Verisight's assistance, the district received input from a diverse group of district teachers and administrators through hourlong interviews, focus groups and different task teams to find a suitable policy.

"The feedback from (the interviews) and the focus groups ... identified that teachers do expect that the compensation model be transparent and attainable," said Judy Mueller, director of human resources, during her presentation before the board. "They believed we needed a commitment to professional learning ... and that the model should recognize work that goes above and beyond."

Verisight's report also found that teachers wanted a model that increased opportunities for leadership, promoted collaboration, embedded coaching and allowed for more reliable and valid supervision and evaluation.

"In order to continue to employ outstanding professionals, it is essential that we have a compensation model that embodies high expectations, coupled with a fair starting wage at a fair progression over time and compensable leadership opportunities," Mueller said.

The adopted compensation framework sets the minimum salary for new educators at $44,000, professional educators at $50,000, program educators at $60,000 and salary for specialist educators would correspond with experience and market value.

New educators will need to be recommended by the administration to become professional educators after three years.

Each category of educators comes with a set of minimum requirements and criteria for salary enhancements, like earning National Board Certification, serving as a department liaison and mentoring.

"I think this pay structure will erode ... this great school system," said Elizabeth Fritz, mother of two children in the Franklin School District and an educator at Oak Creek High School. "I am afraid that by the time (my children) will be in school, the veteran and quality teachers will no longer be in your classrooms. This pay structure doesn't give any person any idea what they'll be making in future years — why would they want to invest in a career in Franklin if they didn't know what they'd be making?

"Teachers need to collaborate, but the salary structure proposed creates competition between them to earn higher pay."

"Any system that ranks and rates teachers and pays them on that ranking is harmful to collaboration; but this framework does not do that," Mueller responded later in the meeting. "We were very conscious of that. We did not want to measure teachers' performance, rank them and then attach pay to that."

The new policy will cost the district approximately $164,000 to adjust to the changes.

"Any change is scary, but I'm hopeful that this is a good change, because I do agree that we can't continue going on the way it has always been," said Board Vice President Tim Nielson.

The board unanimously approved the compensation framework plan with an amendment to review base salaries for the next two years. The policy will be implemented in time for the 2014-15 school year.

"I don't know why a teacher wouldn't want to be motivated with these enhancements," said Board President Janet Evans. "We give incentives to students, so I think it's good for our teachers. I think it's good for the district to have enhancements."

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