Teachers, classrooms to get more money

District proposes pay bumps, higher per-student funding

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The Douglas County School District plans an average 4 percent pay increase for teachers in 2013-14, one of several good-news budget recommendations announced May 7.

DCSD cites the improving state economy and in-district savings for allowing the changes, which also include more money for students and the elimination of a $25 parent-paid technology fee.

The expected state-provided per-pupil revenue will increase by about $165 per student. The district also will add its own money to that pot for a total funding increase of $200 per student, which totals $11.2 million.

“We’re going to be able to put $200 more (per student) into the classrooms because we’ve found efficiencies in the overall budget, so we can do even a little better than what we’re getting from the state,” school board president John Carson said.

The 5.2 percent teachers’ compensation increase adds up to $15.7 million, including $2.2 million to cover the annual increase in teachers’ contributions to the Public Employees Retirement Association of Colorado and a $1.2 million increase in medical plan costs.

That leaves $12 million — or 4 percent — for salaries, half of which will be a permanent pay increase and the other half a one-year, one-time bump.

“This will be our second consecutive year of raises after a number of years where the economy didn’t allow for raises,” Carson said. “Now we’re back on track to where we think we’ll be able to continue giving our teachers regular raises.”

How much each teacher’s paycheck will grow hinges on a complex set of factors. DCSD introduced this year a new evaluation system, which categorizes an educator’s teaching style on a range from “highly effective” to “ineffective.” Pay increases are based in part on that rating.

“That’s a bit of a change from the past, but we expect, by and large, teachers are going to do well under (pay for performance), so on an average it’s going to be 4 percent,” Carson said of the pay increases.

Pay also is determined by a teacher’s placement on the market-based pay scale. It established a salary range based on subject matter, with higher salaries given to those who provide instruction in more complex or specialized areas.

For instance, a social studies or business teacher falls into a lower-paying salary band than a science or Chinese language teacher.

The two scales are tightly enmeshed. So while a teacher who is rated highly effective will get a bigger salary boost than one rated less effective, a teacher rated highly effective who is paid at a below-market rate would get a larger raise than one rated partially effective but already paid at an above-market rate.

Further complicating the calculations is the four-year salary freeze teachers endured during the deepest point of the recession.

“Part of the evaluation of the below-market and above-market has to do with the pay freezes,” said DCSD spokeswoman Cinamon Watson. “If somebody was hired four years ago, their pay was frozen for four years, and we’ve since hired people at salaries above them, we need to catch those folks up.”

School officials have not confirmed yet whether all teachers will get a pay increase.

The budget is scheduled for adoption in June.

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