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County School Board supportive of new pay scale for teachers
Jackson Zimmerman, Oct. 12 2017
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Credit: Josh Mandell, Charlottesville Tomorrow
Albemarle County Public Schools finance director Jackson Zimmerman on Thursday recommended that the School Board restructure the school division’s teacher salary scale.
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Josh Mandell | Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 10:25 p.m.

ALBEMARLE COUNTY TEACHER SALARIES, 2017-2018

For teachers with a bachelor's degree:

» 0 years of experience: $46,000
» 10 years of experience: $50,625
» 20 years of experience: $57,900
» 30 years of experience: $67,600

As part of the Albemarle County School Board’s ongoing review of teacher compensation, school division staff on Thursday recommended restructuring the 31-tier salary scale for teachers.

In April, the School Board approved $32,325 to pay consulting firm Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. to assist with a review of teacher pay by facilitating focus groups with teachers and administrators and by gathering external data.

Instructional staff salaries are approximately two-thirds of the county schools’ adopted budget for 2017-2018.

Gallagher & Co. found that Albemarle’s teacher salary scale for teachers with 15 years of experience or more fell behind other school divisions in the proposed market. Company principal Andy Klein’s June report to the School Board also said the scale lacked transparency.

“Movement through the pay scales and what happens to pay as a teacher moves along is a mystery — even to the principals and the administrators who designed and administer the program,” it read. “[It is] no wonder teachers are both skeptical and feeling like something is wrong with pay.”

Albemarle’s current method for setting the salary scale uses four “anchor points” of experience at 10-year intervals, with equal funds distributed to teachers situated between each anchor point. To achieve this, built-in annual increases must vary throughout the pay scale.

The built-in, year-to-year salary increase for Albemarle teachers averages 1.13 percent in the current scale. However, no teacher’s salary increases at that exact rate. 

Teachers see their base pay increase by less than 1 percent at some points on the scale, and over 1.6 percent in others, before the School Board’s division-wide salary adjustment is factored in. 

On Thursday, division staff recommended using only two anchor points at the beginning and end of the pay scale, to establish a constant rate of increase with each additional year of experience. 

“This system is easier to communicate [to teachers] and to administer,” said human resources director Lorna Gerome. “And there is a sense of equity when everyone is given the same percentage.”

The school division’s budget for the current fiscal year included $1,642,043 in increased pay for teachers, a 2 percent average raise across the school division. Adjusting salaries to the new scale and repeating this year’s 2 percent raise would cost $3 million — or twice as much as on the traditional pay scale. 

Finance director Jackson Zimmerman said adjusting to the new salary scale would produce widely varied salary increases in the first year. Employees entering their 12th year of teaching would see their salary increase by 5.37 percent next year. The salaries of teachers in their first and 31st years of teaching would increase by 2 percent.

“We would be rewarding teachers in the middle-range of experience at a greater level than we have previously,” Zimmerman said. “This would ensure our competitiveness when they are choosing whether to stay with teaching as a career.”

“I think that would greatly benefit the communication and simplification of our system,” said Board member Stephen Koleszar. “I like the fact that it’s an extra $1.5 million for teacher salaries, and I think that [added salary] is going to where it is most needed: between years 10 and 15, when teachers are reaching their greatest productivity. That makes us more competitive.”

Board member Jonno Alcaro said he would prefer more of the additional funding to benefit the county’s most experienced teachers. 

“I love the fact that the money is going fastest into the center [of the salary scale],” he said. “But the scale still ends up at roughly the same point. I’d love to see if there’s some way it can be done so teachers have more to look forward to down the road.”

Alcaro also asked staff to share what the new salary structure would look like if the School Board adopted a new competitive market proposed in the Gallagher & Co. report.

Albemarle currently compares its teacher salaries to 26 school divisions in surrounding counties and in other municipalities from throughout Virginia. Salaries are targeted for the 75th percentile of the market.

The consultant recommended adopting a smaller competitive market based on school quality, as measured by the educational ranking and review website Niche.

Division staff have estimated the cost of meeting the proposed competitive market and a 2 percent raise would require $4.3 million — $2.8 million more than giving the raise alone.

Albemarle County was the third-ranked school division in Virginia in Niche.com’s 2018 rankings. Charlottesville City Schools ranked sixth, rising from 17th on the 2017 list. Other divisions in this year’s top 10 include Arlington, Loudon County, Fairfax County, York County, and Henrico County.

The Gallagher & Co. study also concluded that Albemarle was not competitive in providing stipends for taking on additional responsibilities. On Thursday, staff recommended restoring a 35 percent reduction in leadership stipends instituted in 2010, at a total cost of $345,755.

The School Board will give further input on the proposed competitive market for teacher compensation at its work session on Oct. 26.

Board member Dave Oberg was absent from Thursday’s meeting.

 

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