This chapter reviews the personnel management functions of Venus Independent School District (VISD) in the following sections:
B. SALARIES AND COMPENSATION
Salary administration involves developing district pay practices; recommending appropriate structures for all classifications of personnel; implementing a regular schedule of salary surveys; recommending necessary adjustments to the compensation structure; and conducting analyses of the impact of proposed salary and wage increases.
In the summer of 2002, the district declared financial exigency. Financial exigency is an event that creates a need for the district to reduce financial expenditures for personnel. It may result from a decline in the district’s financial resources; a decline in enrollment; cut in funding; decline in tax revenues; or any unanticipated expense or capital needs. Chapter 21 of the Texas Education Code states: “(a) the board of trustees may terminate a term contract and discharge a teacher at any time for; (1) good cause as determined by the board; or (2) a financial exigency that requires a reduction in personnel.” During the district’s 2002-03 budget review, VISD’s new superintendent identified a shortfall in the 2001-02 fund balance audit report. As a result of declaring financial exigency, the district eliminated seven positions: three new middle school teachers; one elementary school aide; one primary school aide; and two paraprofessionals. The superintendent contacted neighboring school districts to help the employees find other employment. In addition to reducing staff, the district did not fill positions for an aide or a teacher position that became vacant in August. Using funds from the fund balance to cover the salary and expenses for the remainder of the year, the district created a business manager position in February 2003.
Exhibit 3-4 shows average teacher salaries for VISD, selected peer districts and the state. VISD ranks lowest among its peers in average teacher salaries. The highest average teacher salary rate among the group is Mansfield ISD, which pays its teachers an average of $7,056 more per year than VISD. VISD teacher salaries fall below the state average by $5,459 annually.
Average Teacher Salaries
VISD, Peer Districts and State
District Average Salary for Teachers Venus $34,513 Godley $34,626 Dublin $36,728 Grandview $37,020 Rio Vista $34,736 State $39,972 Source: TEA, PEIMS, 2002-03.
Exhibit 3-5 shows average teacher salaries for VISD and surrounding area districts. VISD ranks the lowest among the surrounding area districts in average teacher salaries. The highest average teacher salary rate among the surrounding area districts is Joshua ISD, which pays an average of $6,406 more annually than VISD. According to district administrators who were interviewed by the review team, VISD occasionally has lost teachers because of higher salaries paid by other nearby districts, including Midlothian ISD and Mansfield ISD.
Average Teacher Salaries
VISD and Surrounding Districts
District Average Salary for Teachers Venus $34,513 Alvarado $37,415 Burleson $40,045 Cleburne $40,248 Godley $34,626 Grandview $37,020 Joshua $40,919 Keene $35,198 Average $37,498 Source: TEA, PEIMS, 2002-03.
Exhibit 3-6 compares 2002-03 VISD teacher salaries with those of its peers sorted by years of experience.
Average Teacher Salary by Years of Experience
VISD and Peer Districts
Years of Experience Venus Godley Dublin Grandview Rio Vista Beginning Teachers $26,940 $27,241 $26,620 $26,760 $25,316 1-5 years $29,271 $29,377 $27,816 $29,590 $28,998 6-10 years $35,803 $34,691 $33,115 $36,547 $34,047 11-20 years $41,624 $40,279 $39,551 $40,122 $40,988 More than 20 years $45,561 $44,735 $44,258 $45,580 $46,793 Source: TEA, PEIMS, 2002-03.
Exhibit 3-7 shows that in 2002-03 VISD ranks second in average salaries for administrators compared to its peers, but pays less than the average state administrative salary.
VISD and Peer Districts
2002-03 Number Assigned to Administration Average Salary for Administration Venus 7 $58,444 Godley 9 $56,065 Dublin 8 $58,207 Grandview 10 $52,987 Rio Vista 4 $62,500 State 19,740 $64,259 Source: TEA, PEIMS, 2002-03.
Exhibit 3-8 describes the number of full-time equivalent positions (FTEs) employed by the district for 1999-2000 through 2002-03, compared to the number of students.
VISD Staff FTEs and Total Students
1999-2000 through 2002-03
1999-2000 2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 Percent Change Student Enrollment 1,632 1,807 1,851 1,871 14.6% Staff 217 237 261 245 12.9% Student/Staff Ratio 7.5 7.6 7.1 7.6 1.5% Teachers 108 124 133 129 19.4% Student/Teacher Ratio 15.1 14.6 13.9 14.5 (4.0%) Educational Aides 54 50 68 42 (22.2%) Source: TEA, PEIMS, 2002-03.
VISD’s use of block scheduling at the high school increases teacher-staffing costs. The term “block scheduling” refers to restructuring or organizing at least part of the school day into a larger block of time, such as changing a seven-period day to a four-period day. The theory behind the block schedule is that the schedule contains fewer classes per day, enabling teachers and students to focus more time and energy on each lesson and to cover subjects in greater depth. VISD uses an accelerated block. Under the accelerated block concept, the standard 180-day school year is divided into two 90-day semesters. Each semester students attend four 90-minute classes each day. Students complete the course in a semester instead of over the entire year.
The use of block scheduling increased significantly during the past decade in the United States. The theory was that block scheduling would:
- improve school atmosphere;
- cause fewer dropouts;
- allow teachers to use creative teaching strategies;
- reduce the emphasis on memorization;
- produce higher grades;
- benefit at-risk students; and
- reduce classroom administrative time.
Students like block scheduling because of the additional electives or work-study programs available to them while many teachers prefer the additional planning time they receive under block scheduling. For example, secondary teachers receive a 90-minute planning period while their elementary colleagues receive only 45 minutes.
Recent studies have found that block scheduling has not improved academic performance. Some teachers find a lack of time to cover course content because what teachers are expected to know and do has increased in amount and intensity. Given the typical attention span of an adolescent, it may be hard for teachers to engage teenagers for an extended block of time. Some block schedules compress learning into one semester and they go a whole year before the subject is covered again. In subjects that build on previous knowledge, the scheduling gap may pose a problem to students’ retention.
The Texas Education Agency (TEA) Office of Policy Planning and Research, Division of Research and Evaluation conducted an evaluation of block scheduling and published the results in September 1999 in the Policy Research Report 13, Block Scheduling in Texas Public High Schools. The study examined the relationships between different types of schedules and overall student performance in Texas public high schools. Overall performance was measured in terms of dropout rates, grade-level retention rates, campus-level results for the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills and participation and performance on college admission tests and advanced placement exams. TEA findings suggest that several district characteristics are more closely related to overall student performance than the particular types of schedules. For example, campus characteristics and student demographics appear to be more closely associated with overall student performance than the types of scheduling. TEA said that “available data on high school schedules used in Texas public education do not systematically explain or account for variation in overall school performance.” The study went on to say, “that school context is much more closely related to overall student performance than the particular types of schedules high schools used.”
When the contextual features and performance measures were considered collectively, the following characteristics were found to be associated with overall student performance:
- average student attendance rate for the campus;
- percentage of students enrolled on campus who were economically disadvantaged;
- campus enrollment;
- education service center region;
- district type: urban, rural;
- percentage of students enrolled on campus who were ethnic minorities; and
- percentage of teachers on campus who were ethnic minorities.
In addition, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ Commission on Secondary and Middle Schools Accreditation Standards 2000 recommends: grades 9-12 have a maximum of 35 students per class with a maximum teaching load of 750 students per week and middle schools grades 5-8 have a maximum of 30 students per class.
Texas school districts are re-evaluating block scheduling from both economic and academic standpoints and returning to traditional six- or seven-period day schedules. Since January 2003, San Angelo ISD (SAISD) and Clear Creek ISD (CCISD) school boards have voted to return to a traditional schedule, projecting an estimated savings of $2.1 million in SAISD and $3.2 million in CCISD.
VISD’s secondary staffing requirements on a traditional seven-period day schedule is presented in Exhibit 3-9. The current staffing at the high school is under block scheduling and the middle school is under a traditional scheduling. The formula used in the exhibit is based on a pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) of 24 to 1, excludes special education teachers and may be applied across the middle and high schools.
VISD Secondary Staffing Formula
Using a Seven-Period Day and 24/1 PTR
Description Math High School Middle School Total all teachers 34 33 Special Education teachers Subtract 4 6 Regular teachers Results 30 27 Student-teacher ratio (PTR) 24 24 Number of teacher periods Multiply 6 6 Two semesters Multiply 2 2 Required teacher load Results 288 288 Two semesters Multiply 2 2 Total student periods Results 7,140 5,642 Total student periods 7,140 5,642 Required teacher load Divide 288 288 Required number of teachers Results 25 20 Regular teachers assigned 30 27 Required number of teachers Subtract 25 20 Staffing Change Results (5) (7) Source: VISD and TEA, PEIMS, 2002-03.
VISD middle school is not on block scheduling. None of the regular education teachers are paid with Title I funds. Therefore, any staffing change will only affect state and local funding and should not impact federal programs.
Eliminate secondary block scheduling, return to a traditional schedule and increase student-teacher ratios at secondary schools.
IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE
1. The superintendent works with secondary principal to design a traditional schedule. October 2003 2. The superintendent and principal present the plan to parents and students to explain the program, obtain community input and identify concerns. November 2003 3. The superintendent presents the plan for traditional schedule to the board for approval and the district's attorney briefs the board on reduction-in-force (RIF) requirements. January 2004 4. The superintendent and staff identify courses for elimination and associated teachers for possible RIF. February 2004 5. The board approves RIFs and personnel are notified. March 2004 6. The superintendent implements traditional secondary schedule. August 2004
The 2002-03 PEIMS files report VISD’s average teacher pay as $34,513. Using a 10 percent benefit adjustment, the average teacher pay would be $37,964 ($34,513 x 1.1 = $37,964). Reducing 12 teaching positions will result in a $455,568 annual savings ($37,964 x 12 = $455,568).
Recommendation 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 Eliminate secondary block scheduling, return to a traditional schedule and increase student-teacher ratio at secondary schools. $0 $455,568 $455,568 $455,568 $455,568
VISD does not have competitive salary schedules for teachers. Input received during staff interviews, public forums, focus groups and through surveys indicate that it is difficult for VISD to hire and retain qualified teachers because the salary pay scale is not competitive. Exhibit 3-10 shows survey responses from teachers, principals, central office administrators and support staff regarding salaries. In addition, community surveys indicated 33 percent do not believe that “highly qualified teachers fill job openings.”
VISD Staff Responses to 2003 TSPR Survey
Survey Question: District salaries are competitive with similar positions in the job market Strongly Agree Agree No Opinion Disagree Strongly Disagree Teacher Survey Results 0% 17% 0% 46% 38% Principal Survey Results 0% 0% 0% 25% 75% Administrator/Support Survey Results 0% 0% 27% 47% 27% Source: TSPR surveys.
The superintendent and administrative staff recognize that it is difficult to hire and retain qualified teachers because of the salary pay scale. Staff expressed concern in interviews about the district’s high turnover rate. The coordinator of Curriculum and Special Programs said that in 2001-02 the district hired 17 new teachers to fill the primary school’s 23 positions. Of the teachers hired, 12 had alternative certifications in reading. Because of teacher shortages, VISD hires degreed applicants who must attend alternative certification programs. Upon completion of the required certifications, neighboring districts that offer higher salaries recruit many VISD teachers. VISD’s starting salary for new teachers is $26,940, while Midlothian ISD offers $31,000 and Mansfield ISD offers $37,098 for beginning teachers. In 1997-98, a VISD middle school assistant principal accepted a teacher/coach position with Mansfield ISD for a $9,000 annual salary increase.
Exhibit 3-11 shows teacher experience and turnover rates for VISD and its peer districts. Compared to the peer districts, VISD ranks fifth in experienced teachers and has the second highest teacher turnover rate. VISD’s turnover rate is higher than the state average by 16.4 percent. VISD also has the highest share of beginning teachers and ranks third in the category of teachers with one to five years of experience.
Teacher Experience and Turnover Rates
VISD and Peer Districts
Dublin Godley Grandview Rio Vista Venus State Average Beginning Teachers 4.0% 5.8% 3.7% 11.4% 25.4% 7.8% 1-5 Years Experience 22.4% 43.3% 22.8% 26.6% 24.9% 27.8% 6-10 Years Experience 18.4% 20.2% 19.1% 19.4% 23.4% 18.1% 11-20 Years Experience 27.6% 20.2% 34.5% 32.4% 15.8% 24.7% More than 20 Years Experience 27.6% 10.6% 20.7% 10.3% 10.5% 21.6% Average Years Experience 13.6 8.3 11.8 9.3 7.6 11.9 Average Years Experience with the district 9.2 3.8 5.5 4.1 3.1 7.8 Turnover 20.8% 23.1% 22.6% 38.1% 32.1% 15.7% Source: TEA, AEIS, 2001-02.
VISD’s lower compensation practice could be a factor resulting in the district’s high rate of teacher turnover.
The teacher salaries earned for each salary step in surrounding school districts is shown inExhibit 3-12. The pay differential has been calculated between the average salary of the surrounding school districts and the current VISD salary.
VISD Teacher Salaries Compared with Surrounding Districts
Salary Step District 0 5 10 15 20 Mansfield $37,098 $38,154 $39,668 $43,408 $47,189 Cedar Hill $36,000 $37,050 $38,700 $42,470 $46,270 Midlothian $31,000 $32,530 $37,850 $42,110 $45,320 Red Oak $30,000 $32,321 $37,832 $41,983 $45,114 Burleson $34,000 $35,000 $37,500 $41,490 $45,080 Average $33,620 $35,011 $38,310 $42,292 $45,795 Venus $26,940 $31,480 $36,930 $40,960 $44,000 Difference ($6,680) ($3,531) ($1,380) ($1,332) ($1,795) Source: VISD superintendent and district’s Web sites.
The superintendent submitted a proposal to the school board in February 2003 to increase beginning teacher salaries to $30,000 over a two-year period.
Increase teacher salaries to be more competitive with peer and surrounding districts.
IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE
1. The superintendent assigns the business manager, coordinator of Curriculum and Special Programs and representatives from school administration and staff to a salary committee. September 2003 2. The salary committee surveys area districts to determine the average salary for teaching positions of all levels of experience. October 2003 3. The business manager calculates the cost of increasing the VISD teacher salaries. November 2003 4. The business manager presents the results to the superintendent. December 2003 5. The superintendent reviews the information, presents it to the board and requests approval for inclusion in the 2004-05 budget. January 2004 6. The board approves the recommendation and directs the superintendent to budget for the increases beginning with the 2004-05 year. February 2004 7. The superintendent directs the business manager to include sufficient funds in the budget for the 2004-05 year. March 2004
The average salaries earned for each employment category in the surrounding school districts is shown in Exhibit 3-12. The fiscal impact assumes that there will be the same number of full-time-equivalent teacher positions that existed in 2002-03: 13 in Step 0; 53 teachers in Step 5; 25 teachers in Step 10; 23 teachers in Step 15; and 16 teachers in Step 20 (Exhibit 3-13). Using average salaries, the total budget adjustment needed to increase salaries for each employee group is $367,839. In addition, the district will incur an additional cost of 3 percent in benefits. This is made up of approximately 1.45 percent in Medicare, 1 percent in Workers’ Compensation and .055 percent in Unemployment Compensation.
Cost of Increasing VISD Teachers to Area Districts Average
Salary Step Teacher FTE’s Difference between
Venus and Area Average
Total Costs of
0 13 ($6,680) ($86,840) 1-5 53 ($3,531) ($187,143) 6-10 25 ($1,380) ($34,500) 11-15 23 ($1,332) ($30,636) 16-20+ 16 ($1,795) ($28,720) Increase in salaries ($367,839) Increase in benefits ($11,035) Total fiscal impact ($378,874) Source: Texas Public School Consulting Inc.; calculation using PEIMS data and average area teacher salaries.
Recommendation 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 Increase teacher salaries to be more competitive with peer and surrounding districts. $0 ($378,874) ($378,874) ($378,874) ($378,874)
The district does not have a salary schedule for administrators, support staff, auxiliary staff and/or educational aides. Comments received from community members and staff reveal a perception that salaries are not consistent for similar positions in the district, which affects staff morale. Salary increases varied in the past. Some employees received a 2 percent raise when others received a 10 percent raise. No procedures, guidelines or salary schedules exist for setting salaries for positions other than district teacher positions. In February 2003, the superintendent submitted a proposal to the board to implement salary schedules for administrative staff, instructional aides, secretary/clerical positions, food service staff and maintenance/custodial staff.
Compensation plans guide and control salary decisions for employees or groups of employees. An effective salary structure helps ensure equity, competitiveness and objectivity in a district’s compensation practices. Without established salary schedules or plans, pay inequities and disparities easily develop among and between comparable positions or classifications. The lack of structured minimum and maximum salary increments and grades hinders VISD in analyzing and comparing jobs in the district. Wide variances in pay also affect retention and employee morale and result in internal salary compression and salary inequities.
Bastrop ISD (BISD) has a comprehensive pay system that includes goals and supporting salary structures. Exhibit 3-14 shows how BISD organizes employee positions by pay grades and a series of schedules.
BISD Salary Structure
Salary Structure Number of Pay Grades Examples of Positions Teacher 1 Teachers, librarians Administrative/ Professional 9 Principals, deputy superintendent, assistant superintendents, department directors and managers, counselors, nurses Paraprofessional/Technical 9 Department managers, administrative assistants, department secretaries, attendance clerks Manual Trades--Custodians 3 Lead custodian, custodian, laborer/temporary/substitute Manual Trades--Food Service 6 Food service manager, clerk, worker, cashier, laborer/temporary/substitute Manual Trades--Maintenance 8 Licensed technician, warehouse foreman, grounds worker, helper, laborer/temporary/substitute Manual Trades--Transportation 7 Vehicle maintenance foreman, senior mechanic, mechanic, bus driver, dispatcher, laborer/temporary/substitute Source: BISD Salary Plan, 1999-2000, prepared by TASB, June 1999.
Center Point ISD created salary schedules for auxiliary and non-certified employees to clearly define payment for each position. The business manager created these schedules by analyzing the original salary schedules, hours and days worked; verifying minimum wage; and including increases in incremental steps along the schedule for employees with more experience. Once the schedules were created, the schedules were presented to the board for approval. All schedules are based upon work experience relevant to a school district position. Each schedule is simple to understand, easy for an administrator or supervisor to communicate to an employee and easy for an employer to administer. The schedules help ensure that employees with similar experience are paid equally.
Salary surveys can provide district personnel useful data on average salaries based on the average number of days worked and average years of experience for comparable positions in surrounding districts. Kingsville ISD participates in Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) annual salary surveys to determine the competitiveness of the district’s pay with other peer districts. These surveys assist the district in evaluating the market and developing salary adjustment during the annual budget process. Kingsville ISD uses the TASPA surveys, published survey data and peer district data to maintain salary competitiveness.
Create an equitable salary schedule for all employees and positions.
Salary surveys assist personnel departments in evaluating the market and recommending salary adjustments to the superintendent during the annual budget process. A customized report can be purchased that includes market comparisons for the following: teacher salary schedules and incentives; pay raise budgets; market comparisons for 30 jobs including principals, assistant principals, classroom teacher aides, school secretaries, bus drivers, food service workers and others.
IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES AND TIMELINE
1. The superintendent assigns the business manager, coordinator of Curriculum and Special Programs and representatives from school administration and staff to a salary committee. September 2003 2. The salary committee obtains salary survey data from peer districts and TASB. October 2003 3. The superintendent and business manager perform a detailed analysis of the salary data. November 2003 4. The business manager, with input from the salary committee, develops a salary schedule for all employee positions. December 2003 5. The superintendent reviews the information, presents it to the board and requests approval for inclusion in the 2004-05 budget. January 2004 6. The board approves the recommendation and directs the superintendent to budget for the increases beginning with the 2004-05 year. February 2004 7. The superintendent directs the business manager to include sufficient funds in the budget for the 2004-05 year. March 2004
A custom market survey of district salaries can be purchased for $250.
Recommendation 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 Create an equitable salary schedule for all employees and positions. ($250) $0 $0 $0 $0