Germantown district approves alternative compensation model

Germantown district approves alternative compensation model

June 27, 2014

Germantown — One very important step remains in the effort of the Germantown School District to put together a compensation plan for its teaching staff.

Salaries have been virtually frozen for three years, following the passing of acts 10 and 32 by the Wisconsin Legislature.

While the passage of these acts took the majority of negotiations out of play, the base wages may still be negotiated with representatives from the staff. In the meantime, the school board on Monday, June 23, unanimously approved the framework for a new compensation plan, understanding that the final numbers are still in question.

The plan, which incorporates individual and districtwide goals, bumps in salary for obtaining additional education and service acknowledgment incentives, has over the course of the last year been put together by an ad hoc committee that includes almost 30 representatives from various facets within the district.

In addition to partnering with consultants with Verisight, who advise school districts on compensation planning, the district conducted a survey of all teaching staff and held a number of focus group meetings to aid in putting together the plan.

Collaboration, commitment to the district, and continued individual improvement were among the goals in the plan as it's been worked through, said Human Resources Director Cynthia Coley.

At about $16.8 million, the resulting draft model incorporates a plan to bring salaries and incentives up to par from the last couple of years. While staff has since 2011 continued to receive bumps in salary based on the consumer price index, any other increases — such as those for obtaining a master's degree — have been put on hold.

Coincidentally, 29 certified staff members left the district during the 2011-12 school year, including seven retirees and 22 resignations. Though the number of those leaving the district in the prior year was also high, it was made up primarily of retirements rather than those voluntarily choosing to leave the district. Since 2011-12, the trend has continued, with 21 staff members resigning in 2012-13, and 20 on the record to do so as of year-end 2013-14.

"It has always been both a personal and professional goal of mine to hire and retain the best and the brightest," Coley said.

Retaining good people was a priority while piecing together the model, which includes one-time backdated increases for increased levels of education, as well as for acknowledging years of service to the district. Each of these will remain components of the plan moving forward, Coley explained, but will be more costly this year since they backdate three years.

The total budget impact for 2014-15 could be about $511,200, which Director of Business and Auxilary Services Ric Ericksen said is a conservative estimate, and would come from the district's general fund balance.

"It's important to emphasize that $511,200 is an estimate of the potential budgetary impact if this model were employed the way you see it today," Ericksen said. "We are estimating it at the high range going into the 2014-15 budget year aside from the pending negotiations with the teachers."

As this is the first year the district plans to put the model in place, Ericksen clarified the budgetary impact on the 2014-15 budget cycle will be higher than what it will be on an ongoing basis.

"The model is definitely going to provide more predictability and budget stability than under the prior step and lane model," said board Vice President Sarah Larson. "Some of the features we've built into it will be very easily budgeted for so I think for the near term this is definitely a good first step."

The plan incorporates two factors for increased compensation, including a 70-percent incentive for individual goal attainment and 30 percent for a districtwide goal.

"In the spirit of collaboration, we asked for staff to provide us with a list of potential goals the district could consider," said Larson, who also sits on the ad hoc committee. "In terms of them being sensitive to the direction the district is going, their direction (to us) was very positive."

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