Tuesday, July 2, 2013

CMS pay studies: Season Four begins

Most of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' task forces have wrapped up their work, with reports due later this month.  But one is just gearing up. Welcome to Season Four of  "CMS employees study better ways to get paid."

Season One: Performance Pay debuted under Superintendent Peter Gorman,  with teachers invited to contribute to a long-term plan to shift all employees to a pay system based on performance.  It began with studies showing the current teacher pay scale,  based on longevity and credentials,  has little to do with rewarding effectiveness.  It quickly exploded into controversy over testing,  value-added ratings and a legislative push that many teachers saw as an attempt by Gorman to go behind their backs. The dramatic season finale featured Gorman's 2011 resignation,  as he moved on to a job in private industry.

Season Two: Talent Effectiveness brought the mild-mannered interim Superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh assuring employees that the lack of money for rewards was actually a good thing,  creating a pressure-free environment for a new group of teachers to study effective teaching. Susan Varga, a middle-school math teacher, signed on to a year-long advisory post,  while many remained skeptical. That season ended as expected,  with Hattabaugh returning to Florida and a new superintendent taking over.

By the time Heath Morrison introduced Season Three: Strategic Compensation,  the ongoing saga was getting national viewers. Another group of educators signed up to help craft a plan for revising pay in a way that would be meaningful and -- unlike the many pilot programs CMS has tried -- sustainable.  They aimed toward a March 1 deadline for sending their plan to state officials.  With less than a week to go,  some of those teachers told the school board how delighted they were that Morrison was really listening to them.  But  there was a plot twist:  CMS had decided not to submit a state plan after all.

When I talked to Morrison recently about his first year,  he said that because there was no state money to support a new strategy, “I didn’t feel a need to rush this.”  His top staff and the educators who helped create the plan are continuing to review it,  he said,  but so far neither employees nor the public have seen results.  He said the latest compensation task force,  which begins its work this summer,  will incorporate that work,  and all members of the past panel are invited to stay on board.

I talked to a couple of teachers who served on last year's task force,  and they voiced a mix of confusion and  optimism.  "He may not be going as fast as some people would like," said task force member Michael Pillsbury, a math teacher at Randolph Middle, "but I think he's on the right track."


I'm not sure what's left to study.  As Morrison is quick to note,  the lack of state money for even a bare-bones raise puts a damper on brainstorming better ways to reward employees.

At the very least,  we can surely anticipate a new name for the project.  And we can count on a new cast:  Morrison recently named his second new human resources director in seven months,  and Chief Operating Officer Millard House,  who spearheaded last year's strategic compensation study,  just announced he's leaving CMS

30 comments:

BolynMcClung said...

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I HAVE SOMETHING FOR CMS TO STUDY.
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HOW CAN DENVER, COLORADO SCHOOLS' CENTRAL OFFICE EXPENDITURES BE 5% FOR THE PAST 4 YEARS?
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.

I wasn't able to find an exact percentage of the CMS budget that is Central Office but the Denver budget says CMS in FY2010 it was 8% while DPS' was 6%. DPS central office expense has been 5% for the last four years.

Now there's something worth studying. How did DPS get to a 24% lower central office expense?

DPS is smaller(80K students) than CMS but is too much like CMS to avoid this kind of discovery.

Let's suppose CMS could reduce Central Office expenses by 1% of the total budget. It's not even necessary to extend the math. 1% is the exact number needed for a 1% pay raise with money left over.

OMG…….reduce Central Office by another full percent of the overall budget and teachers get a 2% raise.

I can't think of a better project to show teachers that CMS is serious about compensation.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville
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Anonymous said...

And the beat goes on....

Anonymous said...

There is extreme inequality in pay accross the board. New Leaders is also part of the problem. You have folks who have been in the classroom as little as 2 years (w/out Masters Degrees)who are now getting paid 65K as resident Principals. Meanwhile there are some who spent years in the classroom with proven growth, have spent time as academic facilitators and dean of students, basically worked their way up to the position of AP (while earning a Masters Degree) who are only making 49K. That is NOT fair.

Anonymous said...

Frontline teachers are treated like mules and many time rented mules!

Return the bonus and benefits that teachers had 5 years ago would be a good start.Instead CMS and DPI have wasted tens of millions on test creation and this fiasco they call pay for ?. The only ones being paid are consultants and administrators to justify their positions. Start with this:

ABC Bonus money for performance that was never paid to those that earned it.

Health Benefits (80/20)

Vision Benefits

Dental Benefits

Steps on the salary ladder or at least a cost of living adjustment for inflation.

Over the last 5 years teachers have lost at least $10,000 in these benefitls and salary that were part of the pay package. All the while MILLIONS were spent on consultants, test creation and BONUS for administrators on graduation rates.

When does a mules back break?

For what its worth said...

NC is in deep financial trouble. Though a major source of the bleeding is finally under control but not solved. NC owes over $2.5 billion to the feds for the extended unemployment loan and seemed likely to miss its first interest payment a few months ago.

NC has really never regained its economic engine with the demise of the textile industry, the furniture industry and tobacco industry.

And the ever increasing burden of Medicaid continues to hurt the state and counties.

Anonymous said...

Easy solution. Cut at the top, let teachers teach. Stay out of their way and let them teach and do the right thing for their students, stop continually changing the curriculum and programs each school is using.

Anonymous said...

Ann,

I have read several comments written by people contributing to your blog that claim Administrators receive bonuses that are attached to graduation rate. Can you confirm if their is any truth to this and if so can you detail the amounts?

Anonymous said...

I am surprised teachers stay in CMS. I am also surprised teachers come here.

Anonymous said...

The claim Administrators receive bonuses that are attached to graduation rate.

This is true, as is the 14% pay hike for some administrators last school year.

Anonymous said...

The load of NC debt should not be put on its teachers.

Ben Cook said...

This is an opportunity for CMS and many other school districts to learn a viable lesson in constructing, what I define as a Total Rewards package. In earnest, the state offers Learning Education Agencies (LEA or School Districts) plenty of latitude to construct an attractive package. The tools exist but it will require upper level strategists (i.e. Chief HR Officers and Chief Financial Officers) working with other C-level staff to create one. The actually implementation will be carryout by the Benefits and Compensation staff in which employees will know of their ENTIRE package (pay, leaves of absence, annual/personal/sick leaves, and other benefits).

While nothing compares with the ability to receive regular pay increases, until the state and county elected officials determine that is a priority to consider; it will not be part of the equation at this point in time.

Keep this in mind, current pay structure of educators is based on an old model formulated out of the 1950's that has lagged considerably to their counterparts in other industries. That structure begins to become equatable once the educator is promoted into either an Asst Principal or Principal role.

Ann Doss Helms said...

9:57, I'm trying to get an update. I know this has come up before, and I believe the answer is that principals are only eligible for performance-based bonuses if they're in a school that's part of one of the CMS pilots or special focuses that also offer bonuses to teachers (think Strategic Staffing, Project LIFT, TIF-LEAP, etc.)

On the payroll I got in April, 1,056 people were listed as getting bonuses. That included 24 principals, 31 APs and 19 deans of students. There were four high school principals on the list, with amounts ranging from $2,400 at Garinger to $10,000 at West Charlotte. What I don't know is how much grad rates shaped those bonuses.

Bottom line: For administrators and teachers, CMS performance awards have always tended to be piecemeal, available at some schools and usually only as long as special funding lasts.

Ann Doss Helms said...

You can check whether individual administrators got bonuses at the salary database, http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/04/16/1389892/charlotte-mecklenburg-schools.html

But it won't tell you the basis for the bonus.

BolynMcClung said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BolynMcClung said...

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IT'S THAT OLD AH-HA MOMENT.

BONUSES AND THE "DF" SCHOOLS THAT THE SUPERINTENDENT WANTS TO AVOID.

Now, I don't think for a moment that the Superintendent's desire to not have "DF" schools is linked to any desire to protect bonuses but the connection is obvious.....How could CMS give a performance bonus for growth if the state says the school is a "D" or and "F" on the ABCDF scale?


I believe in the bonus model of compensation. If Byers reading stats just remained flat that would be a victory worthy of a bonus. But the State ain't recognizing growth......what is the solution?

Simple: Dr. Morrison can sell the bonus plan if it all comes from the County's contribution and that the BOCC makes a public statement that growth is significant.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville
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Anonymous said...

Dear 10:22, believe me there are plenty of us looking for a way out!

Ann Doss Helms said...

Bolyn, the big challenge with growth is that it tends to be based on year-to-year comparison of test scores. And I don't think anyone is confident that this year's new exams will be comparable to last year's -- or that the 2014 batch will be directly comparable to the 2013 ones. So even folks who are big proponents of ratings based on growth are moving cautiously, knowing we may not have growth measures that inspire much public confidence.

Anonymous said...

Those of you complaining about inequality...get this. Your school system offers choices, magnets, opportunities for children that don't exist in other counties. The front page article about a kid learning chinese on the public school dollar, earned through taxes that I pay, is a prime example. The school system in which my child belongs? Ha! She would never even come close to having any other opportunity- except learning the "3Rs"- in all of her 13 years in her local district. How about that for equality.....

Anonymous said...

If CMS keeps paying low wages and poor conidtions with meager management you see the outcome. Eventually it will be cheaper for the State/County to get better results by educating themselves via charters. I mean I would not give my 12 year old this many failed chances at a puzzle. Its almost like a guessing game for top management , but guess what folks they are cashing their checks. All the while we get new non-seasoned teachers in the class rooms across CMS. They stay a few years and find out its better to work as a babysitter with higher wages than to be a teacher. The quality is just diminishing people. Heath blames it on the state well that excuse is tired pal do something about it. I mean you have 48 task forces and Bolyn on your side !

BolynMcClung said...

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Ann,

I agree, this year the books are cooked. But on a long-term basis the BOCC will have to support growth as a measurement. It clearly calls for targeted local funding.

The problem is CMS continues to grow its population by way of students not prepared to enter kindergarten. Up to 4,000 new unprepared student per year is a reasonable estimate. UNCC studies and the U.S. Census Bureau support this prediction.

It is predictable that CMS' K-5 expertise will be as a district that works much more like a recovery program than as an education system. That calls for a growth measurement. It also calls for an improved family involvement policy. Also like a recovery program.

Our current School Board keeps asking for a funding model that is correctly timed for state-wide budget schedules. That is wrong. It will need a new funding model to locally support the cost of growth measurements that Raleigh will not support.

Bolyn McClung
Pineville
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Anonymous said...

NO MORE EXCUSES CMS!

Anonymous said...

Bolyn, what you propose is far beyond the intellect and depth of thinking required by most of these board members. Remember when low information voters elect their representatives, that is all you get.

Also, your comment about the funding model is what is going on in back rooms right now. The NC superintendents are meeting with legislators to lift the way counties pay a supplement. Look to hear how the county supplement money is redirected to a pot to pull off this support of growth measurements. Essentially, the teachers in the non urban areas will lose that 10% pay and it will get split up among the urban teachers whether there is improvement or not. I say "not" because the "sistas" will protect and cover for each other.

Anonymous said...

Using "Growth Measurements" for student success is fraud, unreliable and the system never allows its teachers or the public to see the formula for determining growth. If a student scores a 17 percent then scores a 34 percent by the end of the year they show tremendous growth but they are still miserable failures.

Anonymous said...


I once agreed with a business model for education until I had am elementary school teacher as a roommate after college. I would be sitting watching the game on Saturday while she met with her grades team members for common planning. She always had multiple tote bags of grading and lived on her laptop planning. She left every morning before I woke up. The stories I heard about the kids scared me. To be so young and so angry disturbed me. The parent’s stories were often worst. Our salaries just out school was comparable but quickly became unequal. In the summers she worked part time jobs doing “dirty jobs” or low pay. It used to be a joke among the roommates. Her pay was low but she made it work. It could have been worse.
After moving to North Carolina and having children of my own, I have found worse. After 11 years of teaching (the amount of years I have been out of school) a teacher earns 41,000 in CMS….. How can we change the pay system without having a decent base pay? Many careers are based on years and time of services. Rewards for extra duties or a “job well done” are called bonuses. When I worked for Enterprise we where given a base pay and a bounces. We would also repo cars from customers who did not pay their bills. Can teachers repo students who do not work or study? From what I have read, CMS had bonuses and then did not pay them…?
To my understanding, educators are not promoted to be Principals. Teachers need to take classes or seek a degree in administration. It is not like a move up in the corporation. You can become principals without being a teacher. Originally administration positions where for taking care of school operations and facilities (Lights, heat, desk). The position was created so teachers could focus on teaching. While administrators or principals acquired and distributed recourses and brought them to the classroom to aid teachers. It was a team effort. Over the years it has become like a business structure with principles becoming the managers of teachers. It is well known that some principals where not good teachers.

Anonymous said...

The Senate, Congress and Governor of NC do not understand. They only know what they have been told. When the federal government says jump, they ask how hi? They all read from the same playbook. Obama’s race to the top plan is not that much different than the Gov. Pat McCrory’s education plan. Lead administrators in school districts just jockey for position looking for better paying jobs like Peter Gorman. Here today gone tomorrow. The children and teachers are left behind.

Anonymous said...

The mules back doesnt break. They will just put a bullet in their heads. If you dont like it leave. If you dont leave then STRIKE.

Otherwise shut the heck up and go find another job!

Ex-CMS Teacher said...

The administrators will do things to get good teachers away if they don't want to pay them.

I am an example. I left CMS with the highest-achieving class at my grade level. My students were nearly two full grade levels ahead of where they needed to be on average in reading; all could do math at that level as well. I was praised by parents and my colleagues who actually took the time to know me knew what I had done as well.

However, the administration looked for ways to get me out of the school. They twisted the subjective evaluation criteria enough to make me look like I had no idea what I was doing despite the fact I had the data and the actual students to prove otherwise. One student's disability, which his parents refused to seek care for, was used against me.

I talked to a few friends from other schools and they said that the principal (and his facilitator cronies) likely did this because I would have been out of the price range for the school if merit pay had gone through. They wanted the money and bonuses for themselves and their favorite people, not some guy who came in from elsewhere to make a difference in the lives of his students.

This is yet another reason why I resigned and have left the public school system (and the state). The system is broken and if this is the way they treat a teacher who actually cares, it's destined to fail once everyone wakes up and sees what these corrupt administrators are actually up to. Greed and selfishness should NOT exist in an academic environment.

Alicia Conway said...

I believe that school should be associated with something pleasant. Thus, when my kids become bored with their homework, I use online homework help services.

Ex-CMS Teacher said...

Alicia, you did the right thing. CMS does not encourage gifted children to get ahead. Instead, it lets them be bored and fall behind. This is not always because of the teachers, but because of the administrators who force the teachers to conform to a certain mold and do everything THAT way, even if it's not for the best interest of the class.

I seriously believe facilitators wind up where they do because they are good at conforming and not innovative in their teaching. Hence, they become the perfect people to say "instead of doing this effective technique, try this, which may not benefit your students but is what CMS likes".

Anonymous said...

CMS, get rid of the academic and curriculum facilitators. it's a complete waste of funds.. Teachers have all the resources they need to find curriculum and materials on the internet and share with team colleagues.