Tag Archives: pay

A Review of TN Experiment on Alternative Teacher Pay

News release from state comptroller’s office:
Four Tennessee school districts have joined a small but growing group of districts nationwide that are experimenting with alternative ways to pay teachers, a new report released today by the Comptroller’s Offices of Research and Education Accountability (OREA) highlights.
Alternative salary plans base teacher pay increases on positive performance ratings rather than on years of service and graduate degrees earned, which are the basis for traditional salary plan increases. Alternative salary plans allow effective teachers to earn higher salaries more quickly than they would under traditional plans. The report, titled Trends in Teacher Compensation: Focus on Alternative Salary Schedules, details how the alternative plans work, what characteristics they share and how they differ from the more common performance bonuses.
The four Tennessee districts – Johnson County, Lexington City, Putnam County, and Trousdale County – that implemented their alternative salary plans in the 2011-2012 school year are scheduled to be joined by three more districts next fall: Haywood, Lincoln and Polk County schools.
Research suggests that the factors used to set traditional teacher salary schedules – years of service and graduate degrees – have limited value as indicators of teacher effectiveness. Tennessee law requires the adoption a state minimum salary schedule for teachers based on experience and training. However, the law was revised as part of the 2010 First to the Top legislation to allow local districts to develop alternative schedules, subject to state approval.
Alternative salary plans allow districts to recognize more effective teachers based on performance measures such as classroom evaluations and increases in students’ test scores. They are generally considered a more financially sustainable way to reward high-performing teachers than paying performance bonuses on top of traditional salary increases. The new plans restructure the salary schedule, eliminating automatic increases for all teachers to redirect more pay to the more effective teachers.
The report found that most alternative salary plans, including those in Tennessee, also feature individual or group bonuses for specific objectives such as meeting student achievement targets, teaching high-needs subjects or in high-needs schools, performing leadership duties or completing professional development goals. The report includes descriptions of the alternative plans in use in Tennessee and selected other districts and states.
Interest in alternative salary plans has been spurred by federal grants, like Teacher Incentive Fund and Race to the Top, and by private funders. In 2010, Tennessee received grants totaling $72 million over five years from the Teacher Incentive Fund and in 2012, the state received another $5.5 million grant. The state has also directed some $12 million of its Race to the Top Grant for a special fund to support districts that want to design and implement alternative salary schedules.
Officials in the districts using the new pay plans indicate that the new plans are more complex to administer and budget and require adequate data systems. Because alternative pay plans are based on teacher performance, the fairness, accuracy and reliability of teacher evaluations can receive additional scrutiny. Districts adopting these pay plans see them as a better way to target resources to recruit and retain the most effective teachers.
OREA is an agency within the Comptroller’s Office that is charged with providing accurate and objective policy research and analysis for the Tennessee General Assembly and the public.
To view the full report online, go to: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/OREA/

‘No Budget, No Pay’ — With a Change — Adopted in U.S. House

House Republicans agreed Wednesday to suspend the nation’s debt ceiling after inserting the idea into a bill a Tennessee Democrat has been pushing for two years, reports WPLN. But the No Budget No Pay Act was changed in the process.
The measure sets a deadline for passing the budget. If it isn’t met, Congressional paychecks will be diverted into escrow accounts until a deal is struck. In the original bill, Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper says members would have lost that money for good.
Still, Cooper was happy to see the idea gather momentum and pass. And he maintains the bill has teeth, even if many of the people affected are wealthy.
“Folks I know who have money love money more than anyone else. They want to get paid.”
If the policy were already in effect in either form, Senators would have been working for free for almost four years.
In the House vote, most of Tennessee’s delegation voted for the measure, although Jasper Republican Scott DesJarlais, Republican John Duncan of Knoxville and Memphis Democrat Steve Cohen all voted no.
The bill now goes to the Senate, where Tennessee’s Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have both signed on as cosponsors.

Achievement School District Offering High Pay to Lure Teachers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Achievement School District is rolling out a new pay schedule in an effort to entice high-performance teachers.
The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/UdsyEw) reports a teacher with a fresh degree could earn $62,500 after six years of teaching with the ASD — and that doesn’t include bonus pay of up to $7,000 for the best performing schools.
The base salary is $16,000 more per year than Shelby County schools pay for the same amount of experience.
Currently, ASD teachers make $49,747 on average, which is $6,000 less than the average for teachers at Memphis City Schools.
The Achievement School District runs low-performing schools across the state with a goal of significantly improving student performance over five years. The goal is to take schools in the bottom 5 percent of achievement and put them in the top 25 percent.
Six schools in Memphis are assigned to the Achievement School District this year, but that number will double next year.
“Last July, amid the craziness of startup, we talked to our teachers about the guiding principles of meaningful pay,” said Ash Solar, ASD chief talent officer. “We spent the last four months building a system that reflects their priorities.”
That means student achievement on standardized tests and what the principal observes in the classroom will lead to more pay instead of seniority and advanced degrees.
“We tied everything to student results and teacher performance,” Solar said. “Every effective teacher gets a raise, period. How much that raise is will be based on performance and pathway.”
Teachers just starting out are paid $40,000, which will increase by $2,500 after their first year if they score at the top of the performance charts. After that, they will receive a $5,000 bump in pay each time they move to a higher bracket.
“We have built this compensation structure toward the goal of being the best place to work,” Solar said. “If teachers are at a fork in the road, and are wondering if this is good or bad, we have built this system to be good.”

Haslam Raises Salary of TennCare Director to $256K

Gov. Bill Haslam has quietly raised the annual salary of TennCare Director Darin Gordon to $256,000 while leaving other top administration officials with only the 2.5 percent salary boost given to all state employees this year.
“Tennessee is fortunate to have Darin in this role. He is well-respected across the country and has saved the state millions by keeping the program’s growth trend below national averages,” said Haslam spokesman David Smith in an email response to a question on Gordon’s salary increase.
“He is responsible for managing the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare, which is significant in terms of the number of Tennesseans the program serves as well as the dollars — both state and federal — that fund the program,” Smith said.
The Gordon pay raise took effect in September. All state employees got a 2.5 percent increase effective July 1, in accordance with a Haslam-proposed budget approved by the Legislature. After the 2.5 percent increase, Gordon’s pay was $234,734, Smith said. The subsequent increase to $256,000 amounts to another 7.3 percent hike.
TennCare’s overall budget, meanwhile, continues to expand.

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TVA Boosts Executive Pay

The Tennessee Valley Authority boosted compensation for its top officers in fiscal 2012 to a record high despite a federal pay freeze, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Tom Kilgore, TVA’s chief executive who is retiring at the end of the year, was paid more than $4 million in total compensation in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. Kilgore has headed the nation’s biggest government utility for the past six years and is one of the highest paid federal workers in America.
Kilgore’s total pay for salary, benefits and pension was more than 10 times the $400,000 salary paid to President Barack Obama. But a study by pay consultants Towers Perrin found that Kilgore is paid the least among CEOs at 14 comparable investor-owned electric utilities and Kilgore’s compensation ranked ninth among the heads of 11 comparably sized, nonenergy companies in Tennessee.
Kilgore’s salary was down slightly from the previous year. But his performance bonuses and deferred retirement benefits boosted his overall compensation in 2012 by nearly 2 percent above the year-ago total.

DCS, Parole Problems Tied to Low Pay for Stressful State Jobs

Problems in the Department of Children’s Services and the state parole system have something in common, according to Gail Kerr: Low pay for state employees in key jobs.
Gov. Bill Haslam and the state legislature have to make a choice: Do they keep Tennesseans safe or allow children to die and be sexually assaulted because of stubborn determination to keep government from growing?
…Two key state departments that are charged with keeping children safe share the same problem: They aren’t getting the job done. They have too few employees in stressful jobs making salaries so small that turnover is the norm. Both departments have come under fire in recent weeks for several missteps that endanger the lives of children and adults.
The Department of Children’s Services has struggled to even say how many cases each social worker is handling. Its child-abuse hotline call center is so understaffed that 25 percent of the people who call to report something hang up because they stay on hold too long. The trained social workers who answer those calls hear the worst of the worst, yet the pay is so low that 10 of 65 workers left or transferred over the past year.
A look at the state’s job application website shows there are 41 positions open for DCS case managers right now. Their pay? Between $27,468 and $31,128 a year.
Over in the state Department of Correction, the parole and probation division is in a similar mess.
A recent report shows that, too often, convicted sex offenders are not checked for violations of their supervising rules, including where they are living. Officers failed to visit offenders in their homes in 40 percent of cases and routinely ignored GPS monitor alerts that an offender was where he’s not supposed to be.
In at least one case, an offender was caught living in a home with the child he was convicted of abusing. Every parole officer is supposed to supervise no more than 25 sex offender cases. The average, however, is 40.
The state lists 36 open jobs for probation and parole field supervisors. Their pay range is $26,364 to $29,886.

Lamar Signs on as ‘No Budget, No Pay’ Sponsor

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said Monday he is throwing his support behind legislation that would cut off Congress members’ pay if they fail to pass a budget and spending bills, reports Michael Collins.
The Maryville Republican said he will sign on as cosponsor of the No Budget, No Pay Act and would work to see that it becomes law.
“You wouldn’t get paid at the Grand Ole Opry if you showed up late and refused to sing,” Alexander said. “The same should apply to members of Congress who don’t do their jobs.”
The legislation, filed last December by U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., would halt congressional paychecks if Congress fails to pass all 12 of the annual spending bills by the beginning of the fiscal year, Oct. 1, as required by law. U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, R-Nashville, has filed virtually the same bill in the U.S. House.
If approved, the “No Budget No Pay” requirement would kick in next year.
Congress hasn’t passed a budget in more than three years, but has kept the government running by approving a series of short-term spending resolutions
.

Promised Pay Cut Doesn’t Make Commission Agenda

Members of the Loudon County Tea Party are calling on Loudon County Commission to make good on a promise to discuss cutting their pay in half, reports the News Sentinel.
The issue should have been on Monday’s commission budget workshop agenda, according to Wayne Schnell, a leader of the Cross-County Tea Party group.
“We are concerned that this issue is being swept under the carpet and will not be addressed,” he said.
When the commission’s budget committee recommended in May that commissioners take a pay cut to help balance the 2012-13 budget, most commissioners seemed to agree it was a good idea.
The committee proposed that yearly pay for commissioners be cut from $8,000 to $4,000.
“I thought that it was appropriate because we were asking other departments to make sacrifices,” said Commissioner Sharon Yarborough.
At the June commission meeting, Commissioner Don Miller provided data showing that Loudon commissioners are the fifth highest paid among Tennessee counties.
When it came time to vote on the budget amendments, however, the pay cut wasn’t included.
After a lengthy discussion, the commission voted to table the issue until the next budget committee meeting.
Schnell said he expected to see the item on Monday’s workshop agenda.
“Was this issue settled behind closed doors?” he said.
After Monday’s meeting, Yarborough said she had asked for the pay cut proposal to be put on the agenda. She later learned that other commissioners, as yet unidentified, asked that the issue not be on the agenda, she said.
Among their concerns was the fact that not all commissioners would be at the workshop. Commissioners Bob Franke and Austin Shaver were absent.
If some commissioners decided privately to remove the item from the agenda it would in effect be deliberating on the issue and a violation of the state’s open meetings act, according to Loudon County activist Pat Hunter.
“Agreeing in private not to discuss an issue is like voting against,” she said.

A Bipartisan Campaign Ad (well, kinda, sorta)

A hint of bi-partisanship has emerged in one Tennessee congressional race, reports WPLN – albeit unspoken. Rep. Diane Black’s latest campaign ad refers to legislation introduced by a neighboring Democrat.
Walking toward the camera on a factory floor, Rep. Black of Gallatin describes her frustration at Congress for not passing a budget in three years.
“I argued. I begged. I even got mad. Now I’ve found the answer – cut their pay.”
The first-term Republican says her plan would cut the pay of lawmakers when they miss budget deadlines.
“Her plan” was originally introduced by Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper as the “No Budget, No Pay Act.” Black is now a co-sponsor, and Cooper is nothing but complimentary of his Republican colleague.
“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
A spokesperson from Black’s campaign says “she’ll work with whomever” wants to balance the federal budget. Cooper says if more Republicans get behind his plan, it might actually have a chance of passing.

Black TV Ad Touts ‘No Budget, No Pay’

News release from Diane Black campaign:
GALLATIN- The Diane Black for Congress campaign today unveiled a new television ad titled ‘No Budget. No Pay’. The new ad is airing on television stations across the Sixth Congressional District and it highlights legislation that Black has co-sponsored as a member of the Fix Congress Now Caucus.
“It is outrageous that we have to pass a law to get Congress to do its job, but we just can’t sit on our hands while the debt balloons and Congress continues to just kick the can down the road,” said Black. “It has been three years since Washington has passed any budget and we are over $16 trillion in debt. Our constituents have to do their jobs to get paid and so should Congress.”
Congress so routinely misses budget and appropriations deadlines that it is to the point where no one takes these deadlines seriously, since there’s no consequence for being late. ‘No Budget. No Pay’ would hold Congress accountable for not fulfilling its duties. The law says that if Congress doesn’t pass its budget and all its appropriations bills by the October 1st deadline, then Congress doesn’t get paid. Retroactive pay isn’t an option.

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