Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Not the Board's business #3

Same thing, different story. A Board member forgets his role, involves himself in operational matters, and all ends up badly.

Teachers at this non-public school are paid on an identical basis. All enter on the same starting salary, irrespective of qualifications and experience, reflecting the school's view that teachers are hired because of who they are and they are expected to do the same thing. They then receive annual raises to a certain level when they max out, again reflecting the school's view that teachers are expected to do the same thing. After this cap, they can apply for stipends in return for taking on extra responsibilities. Some choose to take on the extra work. Most do not.

This structure is a school policy from time immemorial. The annual budget reviews the amounts at each step, but the structure does not change. It is easy to work out who earns what based on their time in the school. The only departures from the structure are those senior teachers who receive stipends.

"Jo", a new Board member, thought that her son's teacher is better than the others and so should be paid more because this is what happens in industry. She raised this in a meeting, but did not get any traction as people are happy with the structure. At the next meeting, she raised it again claiming that the teacher would  leave if he did not get more money. 

The school's director knew this is not true; he knows the teacher well and he also knows the teacher has turned down several stipend offers because he does not want the extra responsibilities. However, he also knew that all the teachers would like more money so he used the opportunity to propose an across-the-board salary increase.

Jo would not let it go. She went to the teacher in question, telling him he should be paid more than his colleagues and she spoke to other parents in the class. Suddenly, there was general disquiet over the teachers' salaries.

The director arranged a meeting with the Board chair and the teacher. The teacher confirmed he was not unhappy about his salary, and he had turned down several stipend offers. He noted he wanted a raise, but he said all the staff wanted a raise. The Board chair calmed the Board, the director sent out a letter to calm parents, and Jo was asked to resign from the Board. All this upset was caused by a Board member who did not respect the boundaries.

The salary structure is a Board policy, and the gross amount available for salaries is part of the annual budget set by the Board. However, operational matters such as who gets paid what within this gross amount is simply not the Board's business.

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