Thursday, July 14, 2011
By Marie Sullivan, WSSDA Director of Governmental Relations
Compensation work group convenes
The Compensation Technical Working Group convened Wednesday, July 13 to begin discussing an enhanced salary allocation model (SAM) for teachers, as well as compensation issues related to classified staff and administrators.
The 15-member group was convened under RCW 28A.400.201, which was originally passed in 2009 as ESHB 2261 and modified in 2010 through SHB 2776.
The work group is charged with recommending details of an enhanced model that aligns state expectations for educator development and certification with the compensation system, and with providing an implementation schedule.
Specifically, the law requires the work group to make recommendations on:
- How to reduce the number of tiers within the existing model;
- How to account for labor market adjustments;
- How to account for different geographic regions and recruiting/retention challenges;
- The role of and type of bonuses available;
- Ways to accomplish salary equalization; and
- Fiscal estimates for implementing recommendations, including the opportunity to permanently grandfather into the current schedule.
The work group is also directed to conduct a comparative labor market analysis of salaries and other compensation for school district employees. “Salaries and other compensation” includes average base salaries, average total salaries, average employee basic benefits, and retirement benefits.
The labor market analysis will examine salaries and other compensation for teachers, other certificated instructional staff, principals and other building-level certificated administrators, and classified employees. OSPI has asked the Employment Security Department to help with this analysis.
OSPI is staffing the working group, and OSPI named members in June. The working group includes representatives from several different school districts, including:
- Rick Maloney, Director, University Place School District (WSSDA Board of Directors)
- Sili Savusa, Director, Highline School District
- Tim Fries, Principal, Horizons Elementary, North Thurston School District
- Chip Kimball, Superintendent, Lake Washington School District
- Jim Kowalkowski, Superintendent, Davenport School District
- Doug Matson, Deputy Superintendent, West Valley School District
- Sheryl Moore, Asst. Supt of Human Resources, Renton School District
Membership is rounded out with Stephen Nielsen, Puget Sound Educational Service District, and representatives from the Washington Education Association, Public School Employees of Washington, the University of Washington, and from state agencies for community and technical colleges, personnel, professional educator standards, and the Commission on Asian and Pacific American Affairs.
During the day-long meeting Wednesday, members were presented with information regarding their legislative mandate, a history of salary compensation in Washington and previous recommendations, comparative information from other states, and a classified staffing report completed in winter 2010.
Members also discussed pros and cons of the current salary allocation model. No filtering was done of the brainstormed list, which will be revisited at future meetings and was purely for discussion purposes.
Some of the “pros” for the existing SAM included: relatively easy to administer and understand, districts are able to hire the highest qualified candidate, it encourages teachers to seek more education, predictability, and ease of transferring between districts (with limited salary impact).
The “con” list was longer.
A few of the items on that list included: the cumbersome nature of too many cells, the system hadn’t evolved with performance-based expectations, limits of 16 years, no differentiation between an exemplary teacher and a poor teacher, and lack of a market link to other professions or other teacher salaries across the country.
Over the next 12 months, the work group will grapple with issues, such as how to develop and receive input (or receive input and then develop) an enhanced model, the implementation schedule and priorities, and what should be included in the labor market analysis.
In addition, tough issues such as recruitment and retention in different geographic regions; cost of living challenges; bonuses (e.g., merit pay, national board certified, etc.); considering “total compensation” paid by districts; local v. state funding; and subcategories that should factor into salaries and compensation will be front and center during deliberations.
Finally, trust, confidence and expertise will be needed among work group members. Many have served together on previous technical working groups convened as a result of ESHB 2261, but some are new to this effort. Agreeing on common definitions, guiding principles, and operating procedures will be a few of the foundational activities the group tackles in the next few meetings.
OSPI has launched a web site for the Compensation Technical Working Group. School directors who are interested in following this effort may want to bookmark the page and keep an eye on proceedings. With two meetings a month through December, several monthly meetings, and double duty again in April, May and June of 2012, this will be a busy group.