Thursday, August 14, 2008

Model Plan of Merit Pay in Ferment

Education Week
Union Objects to Proposal to Modify Pact in Denver
By Vaishali Honawar

Denver’s performance-pay system for teachers has long been hailed as a model, in good part because it was jointly conceived and implemented by the school district and the local teachers’ union. But that collaborative spirit is now in jeopardy, with union and district leaders engaged in a protracted battle over proposed changes to the system.

The two sides are expected to go to the negotiating table Aug. 20 to sort out their differences, and have been meeting separately with mediators in the interim. But the rift is wide enough that the union, in a recent newsletter, called on teachers to prepare for a strike if negotiations fall through.

The district says the time is right for a change: ProComp, or the Professional Compensation Plan for teachers, as it is formally known, was ushered in by Denver voters in 2004, and the agreement calls for negotiations every three years, school officials say.

“ProComp was never intended to become a static plan like a traditional master salary schedule. Over time it needed to be adjusted based on the needs of teachers and the district and the window called for the negotiations is right now,” said schools Superintendent Michael Bennet, pointing out that the district and the union also signed an agreement to open negotiations on ProComp in February of this year.

School officials also say that the changes proposed by the 74,000-student district—including raising teachers’ starting salaries and giving additional incentives to teachers at hard-to-staff schools and of high-demand subjects like math and science—would help attract more teachers.

But the union says it is too early to take those steps.

Read more HERE

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