Teacher Leadership Committee Vision, Funding with Board
On Oct. 28, members of the district’s Teacher Leadership Committee presented an update to the School Board on the committee’s work to research ways to offer our teachers formal leadership roles in the area of instruction and receive compensation for the increased responsibilities.
The committee of 19 members representing teachers, the West Des Moines Education Association, administrators, parents and School Board members is developing a plan for a teacher leadership and compensation system. It will submit its plan by January 30, 2014 to the state to apply for a $2.8 million implementation grant.
During the presentation, committee member and Crossroads Park teacher Brandon Hargens shared the committee’s vision with the Board:
“West Des Moines Community Schools will cultivate student growth by selecting excellent teachers to grow and share their expertise through enhanced career opportunities, using a clear and transparent system which fosters and compensates multiple teacher leadership roles. We will continue to recruit, mentor, and promote excellence for all staff and provide ongoing support for collective collaboration and professional learning.”
Three Possible Models—We Choose No. 3
Hargens’ fellow committee member and Beginning Teacher and Mentor Coordinator Bill Bird explained that based on House File 215 approved in 2013 by the Iowa legislature, there are three possible models from which districts seeking the implementation grant can choose.
The committee chose to work on the Comparable Plan Model because it offers flexibility to school districts. The guidelines for this model are to have:
- a minimum salary of $33,500;
- for new teachers, additional coaching, mentoring and opportunities for observing instructional practice;
- differentiated, multiple, meaningful teacher leadership roles;
- rigorous selection process for leadership roles; and
- aligned professional development.
Bird explained that the district already meets several of these requirements, with our starting salary, teacher mentor program, professional development and more.
Is it Sustainable?
Board members asked about the sustainability of state funding and the selection of teacher leaders.
WDMCS Associate Superintendent Carol Seid said the district will receive $2.8 million if the state approves the district’s implementation grant application. The district would continue to receive this amount on an annual basis from the state as a “categorical fund.” A categorical fund is money from the state that is allocated for a specific purpose and must be used only for that purpose.
What if the state funding goes away? Interim Superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy said that while there is currently solid support for teacher leader systems, state funding is never a guarantee.
WDMEA representatives present indicated that they support pursuing a leadership system. WDMEA President Jas Overlin said that we as a district talk about being leaders; this work is one way to do that. Past WDMEA President Phil Peters said that it is in our best interest to come up with a plan that rewards teachers for taking on leadership roles.
Sustainability will be a consideration when developing the plan.
How will Teacher Leaders be Selected?
Seid said the state requires a rigorous selection process. Guidance documents say a selection committee must include, “teachers and administrators to accept and review applications for assignment or reassignment to a teacher leadership role and to make recommendations regarding the applications to the superintendent.”
Peters, who is a member of the committee, also noted that all elements of the teacher leadership system will have to go through the negotiations process.
Hitting the Road
Stilwell Junior High teacher Megan Thomsen said that in order to research various teacher leadership roles in the state and the nation, the committee will soon hit the road. Using funds from the state for research and planning, the committee is currently identifying places to visit to deepen and enrich its knowledge and understanding of various teacher leadership roles.
Teacher Leadership Committee