From the Wausau Daily Herald – Wausau District to Change How Teachers are Paid

August 27, 2013

[Wausau, Wisc…] The Wausau School District is looking to make changes to the pay structure for teachers. They have formed a committee of teachers, administrators, and school board members to find a better, more effective way to pay teachers. Thanks to the reforms that Act 10 put in place, the school district is able to switch the pay structure to a performance based one and not solely on seniority. The district hopes to have the new pay plan in place by the 2014-2015 school year.

The article below originally appeared in the Wausau Daily Herald.

Leaders want to pay for performance, not seniority

A committee of Wausau School District teachers, administrators and School Board members have begun an effort to find new, more effective ways to pay teachers for their work.

Last week, about 30 people met for two working days at the district’s Longfellow Administration Center to forge out a process that has the potential to dramatically change the way educators’ salaries are determined.

The salary structure for generations of teachers in Wausau schools and those across the country has been simple and predictable. Using years of experience and levels of education, union contracts spelled out specifically the pay bumps teachers could expect for each year they spent in the classroom and for taking advanced college credits. The rationale was that the more educated and experienced a teacher was, the more effective he or she was and the more he or she should be paid.

Critics have long contended that those two factors don’t reflect the complex skills and strategies successful teachers employ. That disconnect meant the salary system didn’t do enough to encourage teachers to improve their skills or reward those doing a great job, critics said. Wisconsin’s Act 10, which suspended most collective bargaining powers of public unions, gives school districts the ability to make salary changes without having to go through a bargaining process.

“The old model was probably archaic,” said Jeff Berkley, the president of the Wausau Education Association, the local teachers union, and one of several teachers who is participating in the process. “This gives us an opportunity to be part of something very cutting edge.”

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*Picture courtesy T’xer Zhon Kha/Daily Herald Media.