Oak Park District 97 to study teacher compensation
Updated: April 29, 2013 10:01AM
OAK PARK — District 97 and the Oak Park Teachers’ Association are collaborating on a teacher compensation study, the results of which eventually could be used to tie together accountability and pay when the current contract expires next year.
District 97 Board member Peter Traczyk, Superintendent Al Roberts and teachers’ association President Thomas Kanwischer recently issued a joint statement.
“All three groups decided to undertake this initiative in an effort to respond to the sweeping changes taking place at the state and national levels, and address the myriad questions about the topic that have been raised by the community since the referendum,” the statement said.
Traczyk told the Oak Leaves most school districts in the state use a “steps and lanes” framework for teacher pay. Though it may vary slightly by district, the concept uses columns representing the teacher’s academic degree level and rows representing years of service.
“It’s an extremely predictable paradigm for pay for teachers,” Traczyk said.
He and Kanwischer each stressed that though the results of the study may be used in January when the parties are expected to enter negotiations on a new contract, that was not the main driver of the study. Instead, it’s the accountability measures based on student performance embedded in a state law, the Performance Evaluation Reform Act.
Teacher evaluations will include the accountability measures starting with the 2014-15 school year. Principals already are subject to evaluation of these student performance measures.
Traczyk said PERA does not require accountability measures to be tied to teacher pay.
The goal of any compensation framework designed by District 97, he said, is to attract new teachers and to motivate educators while they work for the district.
The two-month study is led by a fact-finding team made up of District 97 board members, district administrators, OPTA members and representatives from the Illinois Education Association.
“We’re looking on the academic research side nationally, but we’re limiting the compensation side to Illinois,” Traczyk said. He said looking at national models would be too time-consuming and that looking at Illinois-based compensation models is easier because, by law, contracts must be posted publicly.
“Finding those specific examples in other states is hard because you have to know they did something interesting and reach out to them,” he said.
Once the team identifies various compensation models, Traczyk said, the variables of those frameworks will be divided into pros and cons.
Kanwischer admitted his membership is a little nervous about any changes to the compensation framework.
“I would say a vast majority of teachers like our current system. They’re a little hesitant to move into something different,” he said.
“I think the steps and lanes system can be very valuable. I certainly don’t advise moving away from it. But there are ways to make it better,” he added.
By being involved in the study, Kanwischer said, OPTA maintains firsthand knowledge that can translate into leverage at the bargaining table.
“I thought it was valuable for the Teachers’ Association to be involved because we’re very interested in getting them compensated for their hard work,” he said.
The fact-finding team expects to deliver a report to the school District 97 Board in June.