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Board discusses teacher compensation proposal

The New Richmond School District recognizes that it doesn't take college credits for teachers to become better educators. Now, administrators, along with a group of teachers, are working to come up with a way to ensure New Richmond's teachers are rewarded for professional development -- whether they get college credit for that development or not.

The current system allows teachers to seek wage increases in two ways -- negotiate a base wage increase or professional development, which the district currently defines as college credits, Jeff Moberg, the district's director of human resources, told the New Richmond School Board at its regular meeting on Monday, May 20.

"There are quality opportunities outside of college credit," he said. "Some of those opportunities are more meaningful, more effective and less costly."

A group of about 15 teachers, consisting of people from every grade level, various disciplines and experiences, has been assembled to help identify what "activities" should count as professional development and therefore be rewarded, Moberg said.

That includes items like in-house professional development activities, said Morrie Veilleux, district administrator. For example, if the district brings in curriculum specialists to teach the staff reading strategies, that's something that could be rewarded. Similarly, if staff spend time afterhours to help the district's at-risk students, that could also be counted toward professional development credit.

Not all activities -- like those with additional incentives -- will be compensated, said Scott Herron, a member of the committee and the teacher's union co-president.

For example, Herron said he advises the school's ski club.

"But I love to ski," he said. "So that's its own incentive."

Herron said he's been impressed with the conversations at the meetings and is happy that the district is open to rewarding teachers for things other than college credits.

"Not all credits necessarily make better teaching," he said.

The compensation plan will be based on a points system, Moberg said. When a teacher reaches 100 points, he or she will be considered for a pay increase.

"Right now we're trying to assign points to all these activities," he said. "That's the hard part."

The goal is to have a more finalized plan for the board to look at by the June 24 meeting, said Moberg. Ideally, the district would have the plan implemented by July 1.

"I love the plan," said Chris Skoglund, school board member. "What you guys have laid out here looks very good."

Skoglund said she also appreciates that all the district's teachers have had the opportunity to be involved with creating the compensation plan.

"I like the way it's going," she said. "I really like it."

For the complete story, see this week's New Richmond News.