School Board approves 2.34% increase for one year, asks administrators to develop performance-pay system
The Port Washington-Saukville School Board on Monday approved a 2.34% salary increase for teachers, but then instructed administrators to devise a performance pay system that would change the way educators are compensated in the future.
The increase called for in a one-year agreement that is retroactive to July 1 will be applied to teacher salaries across the board.
That would change under a merit pay system in which teacher compensation would depend on performance as measured by criteria developed by administrators â€” a departure from a pay-scale system in which tenure was a significant factor in determining salary.
â€śItâ€™s difficult to describe what the system would look like because we really donâ€™t have one to base it on,â€ť Supt. Michael Weber said. â€śThus far, we have not discovered a merit pay system elsewhere thatâ€™s effective.
â€śCompensation would be based on individual performance, not just because youâ€™ve been here a year longer. The concept is if you work another year, have strong performance and contribute to the educational system, you should be compensated for that. If youâ€™re on a plan of improvement, you shouldnâ€™t receive extra compensation until youâ€™ve completed that plan.â€ť
Kelly Green, co-chairman of the Port Washington-Saukville Education Association negotiating committee and a veteran high school teacher, said itâ€™s important that teachers be involved in developing the criteria for a new pay system.
â€śI just want to be part of the conversation,â€ť he said.
â€śThereâ€™s been no criteria developed and no performance pay system created that has been shown to measurably change student achievement. I think you achieve the same goals in a more productive way by hiring good teachers in the first place.â€ť
When asked if the union has received any indication from the School Board that teachers will be involved in creating the performance pay system, Green said, â€śWe donâ€™t have a clear answer yet. We havenâ€™t been told no, but we donâ€™t know because there hasnâ€™t been a committee formed yet.
â€śBut given the way this district has operated in the past, I have confidence teachers will be involved in the conversation.â€ť
Green said union members voted unanimously to accept the 2.34% salary increase, which is slightly less than the maximum 2.58% increase allowed under Act 10.
Wisconsinâ€™s Act 10, the law that took most bargaining rights away from most public employees, still requires wages to be negotiated, although it controls the increase based on a formula tied to the rate of inflation. Other components of compensation, such as insurance benefits and pension contributions, are no longer negotiated.
â€śIn negotiations, itâ€™s not uncommon for both sides to walk away from talks not being completely happy,â€ť Green said. â€śI suspect the board may have been happier with a smaller salary increase. I would have liked to see a larger increase for teachers.â€ť
The School Boardâ€™s negotiation committee and teachers union have been working on a salary agreement since October.
â€śOur negotiations with the board were pretty typical, but the law we are bargaining under just isnâ€™t fair,â€ť Green said.
He noted that while teachers are receiving a pay increase, they are paying higher health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs and contributing more to their retirement benefits.
â€śEven after this increase, weâ€™re a long way from where we were,â€ť he said.
A sore spot among some teachers is the fact that while the School Board negotiated with its union for a wage increase that is less than the maximum, it approved a 2.8% increase for administrators earlier in the year.
â€śI think that number (the administratorsâ€™ increase) is on teachersâ€™ minds,â€ť Green said. â€śThey understand that everybody in the district works hard, but they feel they are on the front lines of a very people-intensive job and deserve the same increase as administrators.â€ť
The School Board also approved 2% wage increases for food service employees and non-union hourly workers. The increase for food service employees is retroactive to Aug. 28, while increases for other hourly workers take effect Jan. 1.
The Negotiations Committee is currently negotiating a pay increase with the support staff union.
Custodians, the districtâ€™s other unionized group of employees, have a contract through the end of the school year.