Sunday, July 13, 2014

Teacher Pay Scales

I wrote earlier about a school's pay structure and was asked to explain it. The independent school's structure had three elements: a base salary, annual service increments, and responsibility stipends. The base salary was the same for all teachers and was high enough to be locally attractive. No extra was paid for qualifications and experience, an idea now gaining some currency. All hires had to have degrees and certification, even the preschool teachers, and four to ten years' experience. A teacher was hired to do a job, and his/her background, including qualifications and experience, suited him/her for that post.

Each year, for four years, a service increment was also paid to reward teachers who stayed and to recognize the "learning curve", or the improvement that comes with remaining in the school and knowing its culture (aka "the way we do things around here"). At the end of the fifth year, teachers 'maxed out' on the scale. The idea was that the collaborative nature of teaching and of working in that school meant all teachers taught all students. So they were rewarded for that.

Annual adjustments were made to both the base salary and the four service steps within the school's budget process. These increases were intended to reflect cost of living, retention needs, the school's success and so on. Significantly, the school's salary budgeting was controllable and predictable and the school did not have the spiralling-costs issues typically experienced by other schools.

At any time, a teacher could apply to take on an additional responsibility and would receive a stipend for this. However, his/her performance came into play and getting the post or keeping the post was subject to review. After the fifth year, this was the only way to improve salary. The responsibilities were either devised by the school's director, meeting a specific need ot following the strategic plan, or proposed by the teachers themselves. Some were short-term like, writing a curriculum outline. Some were ongoing, like membership of a state subject-based organization and monitoring and reporting on national developments in teaching and learning of that subject.

Interestingly, the school offered no benefits, not even medical insurance. Every three years staff were surveyed and every three years, staff opted for higher salaries in place of benefits. The reason was simple. Most did not need medical insurance as they received it through a spouse. The higher salary allowed them to purchase upgrades to their spouse's plan which were superior to any plan the school could have offered.

The school's base salary was better than the local public schools, and the four service increments meant by year five the teachers were generally equivalent to a year ten public school teacher. After year ten, the public school salaries did continue to climb. However this school did not have either a recruitment or retention problem. While each three-year survey showed the teachers did want more pay, it also showed they were happy with the structure.

No comments :