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Re-8 teacher salaries get a bump for 2014-15

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Jeremy Johnson

 

FORT LUPTON — The Weld County Re-8 School District board on May 27 passed a teacher contract — what they call a “trust agreement” — that Board President Mike Simone said will make the district as competitive as any other in the state.

Board members at the meeting at the District Building unanimously approved a 2014-15 teacher contract that includes an across-the-board increase of teacher salaries, a higher starting salary and condensed salary steps for new teachers and teachers with less than three years experience, and a performance pay pilot program offering payouts based on student growth scores determined by the Colorado Department of Education. 

Unlike last year, performance pay — also known as teacher incentive pay (TIF) — will be based on the performance of each individual school, not the performance of the entire district as a whole, according to Superintendent Mark Payler.

According to information provided to board members and the press by Payler, salary increases for teachers will range from 1.65 percent – for teachers on the highest salary step and with the longest tenure – to 5.85 percent. The majority of teachers will see an increase of about 3.75 percent.

The starting salary for new teachers will increase from $32,825 last year to $35,514 in 2014-15.

“The big news is we increased the starting salary for teachers and that makes us, in some cases, more competitive than many other districts,” Simone said following the board’s unanimous vote.

Along with new teachers, those teachers with three years experience or less also stand to benefit from the new contract, which will compress steps 1, 2 and 3 into step four. “Steps” are basically equal to a year, Payler explained, and under the new contract, those teachers with one, two or three years experience will automatically move up to Step 4, creating the considerable, nearly $3,000 pay increase for new teachers. 

Under the new agreement, the district will also continue to cover increases in pension and health care costs. According to the information provided by Payler, PERA contributions, are increasing by 3.5 percent this year as part of an eight-year gradual increase through 2018 approved via legislation in 2010.

The district contribution for health care is also slated to increase, jumping from $604.75 per month last year to $657.98 per month this year. Employees contribute only $1 per month for medical, dental, vision and life insurance, Payler said.

“The health plan choices for employees will not change; they include an HMO-type plan from Kaiser Permanente as well as (other plans),” Payler added.

Payler said the overall insurance increase is about 10 percent overall and said that increase will cost the district about $210,000 in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

Beginning at the start of the 2014 academic year, teacher bonuses — or performance pay — will be based on student growth scores determined by the CDE in Schoolview, a report that reviews academic growth in reading, writing and math at both the district and individual school levels. Unlike last year, performance pay will be based only on individual school performances, not overall district performance, though individual schools and the district as a whole will receive incentives. Bonuses will only be awarded to growth scores that are 50 percent or greater, and those pay rates will be based on the growth score times two.

Also included in the new contract are stipulations ensuring sufficient teacher planning time and other meetings. Teachers are guaranteed 90 minutes of weekly “uninterrupted PLC” (Professional Learning Community). Teachers will also have four teacher-directed planning sessions per week, according to terms of the contract.

“The district shall make every effort to minimize unnecessary disruptions that would decrease individual planning time for teachers as well as being flexible in terms of the daily and/or weekly calendar demands on the teaching staff,” the contract overview reads.

 

Contact Staff Writer Jeremy Johnson by calling 303-659-2522, ext. 217, or email him at
jjohnson@metrowestnewspapers.com.