BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
The Greene County School System's Administrative Compensation Committee will recommend that the system adopt tuition reimbursement plans for hard-to-staff positions.
The committee approved this recommendation on Monday to go before the Greene County Board of Education at its February meeting.
Assistant Director of Schools Bill Ripley chaired the committee, which comprises a number of teachers from across the school system as well as board member Tommy Cobble.
The committee was formed last month in response to a directive from the Tennessee Department of Education to make some changes to the way teachers are compensated.
Under the school system's current salary plan, teachers gain additional salary based on their level of education and their years of experience. School systems across the state use a similar approach to teacher salaries.
However, research shows little correlation between student test scores and either a teacher's years of experience (beyond about five years) or the teacher's advanced education, according to Ripley.
Options to meet the state's new requirements included offering teachers incentives for filling hard-to-staff positions, providing additional pay based on roles and responsibilities, and providing bonuses or rewards for performance.
The school system was already providing some tuition reimbursements and stipends for additional responsibilities taken on by teachers, including serving as learning leaders, mentor teachers, etc.
The committee recommended maintaining these stipends, to range between $500 and $2,000 annually.
"You want to leverage your best teachers," Ripley explained. "To me, that's the most important piece."
For all but 16 of these approximately 60-plus positions, the stipend comes from federal Title II funds, Ripley said. The stipends for the other 16 positions are from local funds, for positions created several years ago at each of the county's high schools, he said.
The committee detailed that, in order to be eligible for these additional roles, teachers must score as an "effective" teacher on evaluations -- either a 3, 4 or 5 out of a possible maximum evaluation of 5.
If a teacher does not have an individual evaluation score, a low overall school score will not count against the teacher, the committee clarified.
Moreover, the committee will also recommend that the system reimburse tuition costs up to $6,000 for teachers earning certification in order to staff a hard-to-fill position.
"Six thousand dollars ought to cover quite a bit of additional course work," Ripley said. "Often times it falls well below that."
The committee left open the definition of a hard-to-fill position so that it may be determined annually and approved by the director of schools.
The system would pay the reimbursement in annual payments of up to $2,000 each year. During that time, the teacher would be required to maintain an "effective" evaluation score.
The committee emphasized that the recommendation will not require any new local funding to the school system.
Ripley said that the committee will meet again prior to the end of the school year to continue discussions surrounding compensation.