Teachers working for the St. Charles Parish public school system will undergo reconfigured pay raise scales after the School Board passed a rule change last week.
The change was necessitated by a law passed through the 2012 state legislature that required teacher pay raises be linked to their studentsí performance.
The new teacher salary, to begin in the 2013-14 school year, will link teacher performance directly to pay raises. Under the plan, teachers who are found to be ineffective due to low scores on standardized tests by their students will not be eligible for a raise.
All other teachers, ranked from emerging proficient, proficient to highly proficient, will receive a base $750 raise per year plus a raise of anywhere from $250-$1,000 based on their teaching category and teacher performance scores. In addition, teachers with advanced degrees will receive a one time raise of $750.
In the past, raises were linked to a teacherís time in the school system. The terminology used for pay raises has now changed from an annual pay raise to a "step" pay raise, with each step representing the teacherís progress in the ranking system.
"You are now going to have teachers who are going to be in different steps than they were in the past," Jim Melohn, chief financial and administrative officer for St. Charles Parish Public Schools, said. "It is not going to correlate to the number of years experience."
Melohn helped craft the rule change with fiscal responsibility in mind, but also with rewarding teacher performance.
"We feel like it is a good motivation and we feel like it is an incentive in there every year that they can look at and strive for," Melohn said
Melohn said the major difference is a balanced approach to the doling out of teacher pay increases.
"The one thing you will find different now is that every year itís a $750 increase," Melohn said, adding that in the past the amount given in raises would vary every year.
A committee of teachers, principals and St. Charles Parish School Board members helped develop the pay raise scale to meet the requirements of the new state law.
"We put together something that we think is very, very fair regarding how specific the law is, because the law is extremely narrow in what you are allowed to do and what you are not allowed," Superintendent Dr. Rodney Lafon said. "So we worked pretty hard at this."
Under the legislation, three criteria had to be taken into account in rewarding teachers with raises: experience, effectiveness and demand. The "demand" criteria includes the attainment of an advanced degree.
Melohn said the implementation of the new teacher salary schedule will cost the school district $200,000 in the first year.
Melohn said the teacher salary schedule will still go into place despite the possibility that the state law requiring it may be ruled unconstitutional in the court system.
"Iíd really like to go with it because I think this is something that can help us move forward," Melohn said.