School board puts incentives on hold for now

District 51 School Board members decided at a board meeting Tuesday to table a resolution that would have made rewarding Title I teachers a top priority in the district’s 2014-15 budget.

The resolution called for “meaningful financial or other incentives” such as extra planning time or yearly $1,500 bonuses in hopes of making it easier for Title I schools to attract and keep experienced teachers. District 51 Human Resources Executive Director Colleen Martin informed the board at its last meeting, March 3, that 66 out of 120 elementary teaching job vacancies in the district this year were in the district’s 10 Title I schools.

At least 43 of the 66 teachers who left those schools had more than three years of teaching experience. Just eight of those 66 jobs, though, were filled by teachers with that level of experience.

Board member Ann Tisue said she wanted to present the resolution Tuesday before district negotiations with teachers’ union Mesa Valley Education Association begin April 19. The district has formed a committee to discuss strategic compensation for all staff but Tisue noted that process is just beginning.

“We have no idea when strategic compensation is going to happen. We can take a stand as a board right now and say this is important,” she said.

Board member Jeff Leany said he would like Martin to learn more about why teachers left Title I schools and what incentives may have kept them there before endorsing a reward system for Title I teachers.

Board members Tom Parrish and John Williams said they agree with the sentiment of the resolution but didn’t want the board to make promises before the board knows how much funding it will get from the state in 2014-15.

Parrish said even $1,000 per Title I teacher could easily cost the district $400,000 per year.

“I don’t want to hang a carrot out for teachers saying we might pay them $1,500” without that information, he said.


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