Almanac

Schools - June 5, 2013

Portola Valley teachers' pay will depend on performance

by Barbara Wood

In a radical departure from the way teachers have been paid in the past, Portola Valley School District teachers will soon receive raises based on their performance, advanced training, and their students' performance, and not on the number of years they have been in the district.

Under a contract unanimously approved on May 29 by the district's governing board, starting in the 2013-14 school year the district's teachers will get raises based on annual evaluations and completion of additional training. Step increases based on mere longevity will be phased out over the next two school years while the alternative criteria are phased in. In 2015-16 and future years, teacher raises will also depend on student performance.

John Davenport, Portola Valley Teachers Association president, says the new contract is "a rare instance, in which a school district and a teachers' union have come together to redesign the way teachers are evaluated and paid."

District Superintendent Carol Piraino said the new contract is "a real win-win for everybody. ... I think it's great." She said the change will lead to "a really great incentive program."

Superintendent Piraino said only a few other districts she knows of, including those in Denver and in San Jose, have adopted similar contracts.

"My personal belief is it will become the trend and will be where many contracts will go in the future," she said.

According to material prepared for the board showing the cost of the new contract, the teachers' overall pay will increase by 3.5 percent by the 2014-15 school year. Teachers will see no increase in the amount paid toward their medical, vision or dental plans.

New hires will not be eligible for the program for their first two years, but will receive annual step increases until they are approved as permanent employees.

The new contract also includes a 1 percent bonus for teachers for the current school year as well as a 1 percent cost-of-living increase.

The new contract calls for teachers to receive between 1.25 and .75 percent salary step increases in the 2013-14 school year, depending on how many years they have worked for the district, with those on staff longer getting the smaller increases.

In 2014-15 teachers will get between .25 and 0.5 percent step increases.

At the same time, teachers will be eligible for as much as a 1.2 percent pay increase for completing university or professional development courses and 1 percent for a positive evaluation in 2013-14, with an additional 1 percent increase available in 2014-15 and following years for student growth and goal achievement.

The contract also includes a complete description of the process that will be used to evaluate teachers.

Mr. Davenport said teachers will have to earn their raises under the new system. "You will have to demonstrate whether or not a salary increase is applicable to you," he said.

But longtime teachers, who reached the top of the salary schedule at 22 years, will be able to keep on getting raises if they meet the criteria.

"We've kind of worked it so that you can earn what you can demonstrate you deserve," Mr. Davenport said.

Superintendent Piraino said the new compensation system "is rewarding for teachers" who work hard to get further training and do a good job.

Currently, the lowest possible starting salary for a Portola Valley district teacher is $53,372; the highest salary, for 22 or more years of experience, is $110,017. Additional stipends are paid for master's and doctoral degrees or national board certification — up to $2,000 for each additional credential.

The new contract also includes set rates for stipends for additional work done by teachers. For example, attendance at most committee meetings will garner $50 per hour; an after-school athletic director will make up to $5,500 per year; and a teacher putting on a drama or music event will make $200.

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