KSBP remains up in the air | SteamboatToday.com

KSBP remains up in the air

Brent Boyer

The future of an evaluation-based pay system for Steamboat Springs School District teachers remains unclear after another School Board-level discussion failed to produce a unified stance on the Knowledge- and Skills-Based Pay plan.

The direction of the KSBP system has been up in the air since a financial analysis estimated its implementation costs at be about $600,000 a year for the first 10 years the system is in place.

Monday’s School Board meeting did little to focus that direction, as School Board members expressed varying opinions on how KSBP should be funded and whether the system’s evaluation component should be tied to teacher and staff salaries.

But School Board members did agree on one thing — the need to formulate a unified recommendation before KSBP loses its momentum and any future it has with the district.

“I don’t think we can keep putting this off,” School Board President Paula Stephenson said after the group agreed to table the discussion until a special board meeting could be scheduled. “We can’t continue to have the same discussion every time we come together as a group.”

District staff and the School Board approved the outline of the KSBP system two years ago. The system, which aims to tie teacher salaries to a rigorous evaluation system, is intended to help the district recruit and retain top teachers by paying them higher salaries that correspond to their abilities.

A committee of teachers and administrators has spent hundreds of hours over the past several years developing the evaluation component to KSBP. Though a second pilot of the system ended Monday, much work remains uncompleted before the system can be put to a vote and implemented.

The continuation of that work has been jeopardized by the School Board-commissioned financial analysis, which was presented to the district last month by auditor Doug Rose.

KSBP committee member Celia Dunham expressed to the School Board some of the frustration she and her colleagues are feeling with the unknown future of KSBP.

“You have teachers who have produced for this district and some of the highest performing schools in the state,” Dunham said. “They’re getting frustrated with waiting.”

School Board members agreed they couldn’t approve a recommendation from Superintendent Donna Howell that would, in part, separate KSBP from its approved salary schedule, and they didn’t agree on much else.

School Board member Tami Havener said she’s willing to dip into the district’s reserves to fund KSBP for at least the first three years. Jeff Troeger raised the possibility of using Education Fund revenue to help support KSBP’s estimated price tag. Stephenson rejected both dipping into reserves and relying on the recently challenged half-cent city sales tax to financially support the system. Michael Loomis said he’s willing to commit money to KSBP but not enough to cover the estimated implementation cost of $600,000 a year.

“We need to find some sort of middle ground,” Loomis said. “What the compromise is, I don’t know.”

Pat Gleason doesn’t want to see all the hard work put into KSBP go away. He said he wants to see the work on the system continue.

But KSBP committee members are reluctant to continue to dedicate the time needed to complete the system if there’s no guarantee the School Board will approve it.

Stephenson said she thinks the evaluation system and the salary schedule need to be separated from each other.

“In my mind, it has to be two separate things,” she said.

Separating the two components of KSBP isn’t an option, Dunham replied.

“What we’re developing is a salary system,” Dunham said. “I don’t think we can go forward under a separate entity.”

Any system that ties pay to an evaluation needs to have a control mechanism that prevents too many teachers from reaching the top levels of the pay scale and jeopardizing the district’s financial status, Stephenson said.

“We need controls,” she said. “I’ll call them quotas, I don’t care. We can’t have everyone on the top salary schedule.”

The School Board plans to schedule a special meeting to further discuss KSBP.

— To reach Brent Boyer call 871-4234

or e-mail bboyer@steamboatpilot.com

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