Wednesday, August 08, 2001

Conferees ponder how Ky. teachers should be paid

By Charles Wolfe
The Associated Press

        LOUISVILLE — Whether he is looking for new teachers or trying to hang onto current teachers, Shelby County school Superintendent Leon Mooneyhan faces formidable competition.

        Salaries are higher in neighboring Jefferson County, and not just in schools. Better money is to be had in many other lines of work.

        If teachers could be paid according to skill, “we could have a shot at getting the best and brightest to be teachers,” Mr. Mooneyhan said in an interview Tuesday.

        But classroom performance and student achievement must be part of the equation, he said.

        “You can't, for example, just have a pay increase, which is certainly needed, without looking at the other components,” he said.

        That is the crux of a debate likely to be visited upon the General Assembly this winter: Is Kentucky's traditional way of paying teachers — a salary schedule that guarantees equal pay for equal work, experience and education — a relic?

        Allan Odden, a teacher-pay expert at the University of Wisconsin, told Mr. Mooneyhan and others at a Kentucky School Boards Association conference that teacher compensation is changing all over the nation.

        “Many people say the era of the traditional, single salary schedule is coming to an end,” said Mr. Odden, who helped Cincinnati Public Schools switch to a system in which pay is based on an evaluation of classroom performance.

        Starting pay is $30,000. A top-notch teacher can earn $62,000, and there are three pay levels in between. The district also plans to pay more to teachers filling shortage areas or achieving national certification.


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