The Elmbrook School Board's Personnel Committee on Monday voted to recommend to the full board a continuation of a stipend in lieu of a lane-change salary adjustment for teachers who have earned advanced degrees.
The board is expected to first look at the recommendation as part of a salary and benefit package on May 22, though it is expected that a vote would not come until June.
An Act 10 tool
The district imposed the stipend this year as part of its Act 10 authority to make budget adjustments. Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Keith Brightman said the stipends for approximately 57 known teachers in the degree upgrade category would each receive a stipend of approximately $2,000.
Patrick Coffey, a Brookfield East teacher and district union representative, said the "lane-change" salary upgrades could be approximately $4,000 or more. He said after the committee meeting that he felt that the district is trying to be fair, but definitely wants to have the district rethink the degree-upgrade compensation for the future.
Coffey was joined in conversation with the Personnel Committee by several other teachers union members. Sherri Michalowski, an eighth-grade teacher from Wisconsin Hills, said it would be wrong to not compensate current teachers "that you have entrusted and trained" to carry out the district's curriculum. She echoed the teachers' views that hiring from outside often means paying more for educators with the same high degrees.
"I don't think that you would want to do that," Michalowski said. "I'm concerned that if we want to have teachers follow a self-directed staff development process, this could be a problem if there is little or no incentive."
Two sides, trying
Personnel Committee Chairman Meg Wartman and members Jean Lambert and Kathryn Wilson - as well as Brightman - said they would need to see how state and an impending statewide pay-for-performance program over the next few years might influence compensation packages.
"We really don't know exactly what will happen, so we need to wait and see," Brightman said.
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