District doesn’t make the cut

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, March 5, 2014
The West Liberty Community School District was not selected for the 'Teacher Leadership and Compensation System,' a state funded program that focuses on teacher improvement.

Around 140 of Iowa's 346 districts applied to be involved in the first year, 2014/15, of the new program. Only 39 districts made the cut.

"WLCSD will not receive funding for a Teacher Leadership and Compensation plan for 2014-15," wrote Superintendent Steve Hanson to the school faculty. "The cut score was 73; our score was 72.  Larger districts tended to receive higher scores…All districts not funded for 2014-15 may reapply for 2015-16."

"[We would have had] more people working on the improvement of teaching and learning," said Hanson.

The $50 million program offers teachers more work for more pay. Basically, teachers get paid spending extra time inside and outside of the classroom assisting other teachers.

"When everybody's time is filled with class and students they don't have much time to improve themselves," added Hanson. "This program is about increasing the quality of teaching."

For instance, full-time teachers would put in time before and after school, as well as extra days outside of their contract, working and helping other teachers.

The program aims to attract new teachers through support. They can spend portions of their first years observing other instructors while substitutes watch their classrooms.

"We would have half days where teachers can watch other teachers while we put a substitute in their rooms," said Hanson.

According to the program it decreases work load on first year teachers while giving them an opportunity to learn first hand from others who have great knowledge in the school system.

WLCSD submitted its application late January. It laid out how the district would employ the program. To be considered it had to prove at least 25 percent of the teaching force would be involved.

Of the $50 million, districts will receive around $310 per student. This means West Liberty expects approximately $375,000 from the state to employ the program, should it be accepted next year.

The overall goal of the Teacher Leadership and Compensation Program is to get every school district voluntarily involved by the 2016/17 school year. Phase one of the program sets aside $50 million. Each following year an additional $50 million is added.

Therefore, districts that were selected this year will be carried over to the next year along with a whole new set of districts.

The program was introduced in 2012 through a task force and eventually approved by the Iowa Legislature. It's governed by the Iowa Department of Education.

According to its website educateiowa.gov the program, "Rewards effective teachers with leadership opportunities and higher pay, attracts promising new teachers with competitive starting salaries and more support, and fosters greater collaboration for all teachers to learn from each other."

As a bipartisan piece of legislation, it will continue for the next four years. Iowa districts that don't make the cut the first time around can reapply the following year.
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