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Board OKs change to performance pay

Teachers in School District 196 have been put on notice. If they want to earn compensation increases in the future, they will need to meet higher requirements established by the Quality Compensation program, an effort to reward teachers who put in extra effort.

District 196 teachers and nurses voted in April to continue with the Q-Comp plan, making three changes in the process. The school board approved those measures by a 6-1 count at Monday's regular board meeting.

Board chairperson Mike Roseen voted against the changes, stating that he hasn't supported the plan since its implementation.

In the recent reassessment, the teachers union and board agreed on changes that would influence the way teachers earn increased compensation, including the need to reach higher levels of proficiency.

"I think it's important to note that by doing that, the automatic step that a teacher gets by completing another year is no longer in place in this district," school superintendent John Currie said.

"So, it's a very significant change to the way teachers are paid. It was a big step for the teachers to take that, and its a good thing they did improve it, in my mind."

In the original Q-Comp plan -- adopted in 2007 -- teachers and nurses needed to show continued professional development as part of the district's Individual Growth Plans. But, the original plan established a requirement of meeting the "developing" level of performance as outlined in Charlotte Danielson's A Framework for Teaching.

As part of the new requirements, the language changes the evaluation system so teachers must now meet the higher level of "proficient" by the end of the year in all aspects of their IGP.

"In the orginal plan, teachers needed to improve instructional skills and demonstrate progress by participating in observations, showing evidence of implementation of the IGP and reaching the developing level of performance in Danielson's rubric," said Joseph Angaran, a teacher on special assignment for the Q-Comp program. "All components will remain the same for the next two years, but teachers would now be required to reach the proficient level by the end of the year

The second major change involved a revision of the professional pay schedule, according to the original plan's timeline. Now, all eligible teachers will receive one increment advancement on the salary schedule if they are employed the following year without a break in service and have met the "proficient" level of performance.

Previously, increment advancement on the salary schedule was not tied to the Q-Comp program.

The third change involves a decrease in peer leaders from 30 to 27, based on four teachers returning to their classroom roles, teachers' better understanding of the IGP process, and current peer leaders becoming more efficient in their roles.

The original Q-Comp program was adopted by 90 percent of District 196 teachers. This year's review, and subsequent changes, were approved by 64 percent of teachers.

"These changes are really a reflection of a strong working relationship that the district has built with the teachers union," said board member Art Coulson, a board representative on the district's Q-Comp committee. "And, it is a significant step and one that was not a foregone conclusion. So, it was very heartening to see that vote, and to know that we are going to continue this program for another couple of years because I really think it's a strong program for this district and it's really improving teaching."

The changes will now be sent to the Minnesota Department of Education for its approval.

The Minnesota legislature began the Q-Comp program in 2005, making it optional for individual school districts to participate.

Berenz approved as next superintendent

The school board also unanimously approved the appointment of Jane Berenz as the district's next superintendent.

Berenz, the district's director of teaching and learning, will succeed Currie, who is retiring at the end of the school year.

The board's personnel and negotiations committee will work with an outside attorney to negotiate a contract with Berenz. Once a contract has been agreed upon, the action will return to the full board for approval.

Berenz, who grew up in the district and has worked for District 196 for the past 22 years, will officially take over as superintendent on July 1.

"We've had an excellent reputation in this district since I was a little girl here," Berenz said. "Through my whole career here, and I'm sure long after I'm gone, this will continue to be a district of excellence because of all the people who live and work here. It's never been about just one person, it's been about all of us together."