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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Wausaukee Board Seeks To Reward Performance

The Wausaukee School District’s special Employee Retention & Alternate Compensation Committee met Monday, March 31 to continue efforts to devise a new merit based pay system for teaching staff, with the intention of recruiting and retaining quality educators.

Present were the three board members who serve on the committee - Dave Kipp, Mary Marquis and Sandy Wojcik, along with teachers Laura Struve and Ryanne Deschane.

Work is progressing slowly, but that is part of the plan. Goals are to be established in May, and the new pay format is not scheduled to take effect until the 2014-2015 school year. And Kipp, who is also Board President, declared, “We’re not in a big hurry. If we don’t get this done until the 2015-2016 school year, fine!” In the meantime compensation will continue to be based on tenure and educational levels achieved by the staff member. The new format is intended to have performance evaluations and student achievement as major components of the teacher’s placement on the pay scale.

Marquis said employees should be responsible for their own improvement plans for professional development.

Deschane mentioned “Teachscape” versus Professional Development Improvement Plans as required by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. She said staff members are concerned about needing to make entries in both. Currently teaching staff in Wisconsin are required to earn six additional credits every five years.

Marquis said Teachscape was developed as an electronic means of teacher evaluation.

There was some discussion of what other districts are doing, as school boards all over the state are grappling with directives from the DPI to develop their own set of compensation models. “This is a work in progress and always will be,” Kipp commented.

Deschane said all their research shows not to base performance pay on “evaluation”. Marquis said performance in the classroom is just one component of the 10 standards linking performance to compensation.

There was a remark that Oconto said they cannot compare themselves to Peshtigo in terms of compensation, and Kipp commented things are a lot easier when 70 percent of your expenses are paid by state aid.

Kipp suggested they start working with the NWTC model, since NWTC shares the school facilities and has a separate human resources department to work things out. Marquis agreed with Kipp’s comment that they shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Kipp also commented that the new superintendent will be coming on board soon, and she has some definite ideas on the whole issue. Wojcik, who works for NWTC, explained how their evaluation system works, with self evaluation and evaluation by a superior. She said values are a huge part of their evaluations. She felt the hardest part will be deciding where to “slot” everyone at the beginning.

Deschane was concerned about a starting teacher possibly getting the same pay as someone who worked for the district for 10 years, and wondered just what staff members could do to improve themselves financially in addition to doing well on the performance reviews. She noted under the old system the position on the scale was based on years of service and numbers of credits earned.

“To me, that was the big flaw in the old system,” Kipp declared. “Not everyone who has been here 10 years does an equal job of teaching.”

Wojcik commented that a starting teacher with the right training who works enthusiastically may well deserve the same pay as a 10 year teacher. She added that evaluations are not based on one or two observations, but on results of an entire year.

She said in her case, self-evaluation makes her feel empowered, “I can work to improve my position, and someone will listen!” She agreed it was scary the first time, when no one knew if they were doing it right.

Kipp suggested at the next meeting they should take another look at what people said were important as goals at a meeting back in December. He also challenged everyone to come back with their personal answers to five questions:

1)What should our kids expect to get out of their education at Wausaukee?

2) What should our teachers expect from the administration and board at Wausaukee?

3) What should administration expect from the teachers at Wausaukee?

4) What should the board expect from the administration and the teachers?

5) What should the public expect from all of us?

“If each of us can list two or three items, or at most, four, under each heading, we can have one heck of a discussion at the next meeting and start putting together our goals and objectives and how we’re going to get there,” Kipp concluded. He expressed hope that more staff members will be present for that meeting.

He asked that the committee schedule its next meeting for April 23 or 24, when newly hired administrator Ann Kox will be visiting the district. Kox is expected to be present at a community “meet and greet” prior to the next board meeting on Monday, April 21. She will take over on July 1, when current administrator Jan Dooley retires. Kipp was pleased that the board had managed to fill the administrator vacancy so quickly. Kox comes originally from the Fox Valley but has been principal at a school in Brazil for the past two years.

The committee is to meet again, ideas in hand, at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 24.


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