Sullivan BOE to vote on Teacher Leadership program next week

Rick Wagner • Feb 27, 2014 at 11:31 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County school officials unveiled what is proposed to become the Teacher Leadership program for the county school system Thursday night.

The program, set to be voted on by the school board at its 6:30 p.m. Monday meeting, will become the only new addition to the county’s existing differentiated pay plan for teachers.

Both Teacher Leadership and differentiated pay are mandated by Tennessee for 2014-15.

During a more than three-hour work session, the county Board of Education received rundowns on the Teacher Leadership and existing differentiated pay for teachers.

Teacher Leadership is to pay $1,500 a year for 88 teacher leaders and $2,500 a year for 22 community leaders, one in each school building. Requirements include a teacher have five years experience, and the idea is the teacher leaders be “teachers that other teachers trust,” said Evelyn Rafalowski of the central office, one of the members of the Teacher Leadership Committee that included a principal, teacher and another systemwide employee.

The total new cost would be just more than $200,000, although $23,000 would be saved because the program would do away with technology coaches in each building.

“We really need a decision on this,” Director of Schools Jubal Yennie told the school board members of a vote Monday.

BOE members were receptive to the proposal overall, but member Robyn Ivester questioned if calling the teacher leaders “coaches” would sour some teachers on the plan.

Rafalowki said the system will have to do a good job of marketing the program as not being punitive and ensure trust and anonymity in feedback and input from the program.

In addition, BOE member Todd Broughton questioned if non-teaching employees, including janitorial and maintenance staff whose hours were cut in the 2013-14 budget, would question the extra pay.

He said the question also could become would only principals’ “pet” teachers got the positions, to be filled after interviews and input from the building principal and other teachers. Rafalowski said one principal already has requested no direct involvement in the process.

If approved Monday, the process would begin in March with a mass meeting explaining the program.

For $2,000 a year, the teacher leaders would be mentors of a sort to building teachers, attending extra professional development meetings and then passing along that knowledge to other teachers and being there to answer questions from fellow teachers.

As for the other components of differentiated pay, they are to stay the same, including the salary scale that gives teachers extra pay for advanced degrees.

Under the mandated differentiated pay, the state says no teacher can receive less pay than under the current system, but Yennie said the idea was for a shift to performance pay based on value-added student scores.

Yennie said he does not favor that and that some systems have dropped performance pay.

Kingsport City Schools differentiated pay system, unveiled at a work session last week, would keep a component for advanced degrees but put more of an emphasis on teacher performance.

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