Fairfield schools look into teacher leadership program
Fairfield Community School District is working to take advantage of Teacher Leadership and Compensation, legislation that was part of the education reform agenda passed by the Legislature last year.
The Legislature has appropriated $50 million per year during the next three school years for schools whose plans have been approved, said Fairfield Superintendent Art Sathoff.
One-third of the state’s students will be accepted into the plan each year, though participation is voluntary.
“Our district has a committee of teachers, administrators and community members that has met three times so far with the goal of submitting a plan by the end of January for possible approval in March to begin next school year,” said Sathoff.
Fairfield teachers on the committee include Sue Carr, Mindy Hoskins, Cory Klehm, Tari Eeling, Andrew Hopper and Kevin Hosbond.
Fairfield High School Principal Aaron Becker, middle school principal Laura Atwood and Pence Elementary Principal Chris Welch also are on the committee, along with district Curriculum Director Marci Dunlap and Sathoff.
“There are five ‘must-haves’ for any plan,” said Sathoff.
• A minimum salary of $33,500 for all full-time teachers, which Fairfield already surpasses;
• Improved entry into the profession, which refers to additional coaching, mentoring and observation opportunities for new teachers and others who need it;
• Differentiated, multiple and meaningful teacher roles;
• Rigorous selection process for leadership roles;
• Aligned professional development.
“If approved, our district would receive a little more than $500,000 from the state to implement our plan, which would include additional pay for teachers in new leadership roles,” said Sathoff.
The committee needs to accomplish a lot before the end of January to get a plan submitted for approval to allow this possibility for additional paid teacher leadership, he said.
The legislation says districts need to make a good faith effort to have teacher leadership positions available for 25 percent of its staffs.
According to information at the Iowa Department of Education website educateiowa.gov the TLC system rewards effective teachers with leadership opportunities and higher pay. It will attract promising new teachers with competitive starting salaries and more support. And it can foster greater collaboration for all teachers to learn from each other.
TLC is a tool to improve student learning by requiring improved instruction.
In the TLC system, teacher leaders take on extra responsibilities, including helping fellow teachers analyze data and fine-tune instructional strategies. It includes teachers coaching other teachers and co-teaching.
Bipartisan legislation created a four-year process to fully develop a statewide Teacher Leadership and Compensation system, with the goal of all school districts voluntarily participating by the 2016-17 school year.
The goals of TLC are:
• Attract able and promising new teachers by offering competitive starting salaries and offering short-term and long-term professional development and leadership opportunities.
• Retain effective teachers by providing enhanced career opportunities.
• Promote collaboration by developing and supporting opportunities for teachers in schools and school districts statewide to learn from each other.
• Reward professional growth and effective teaching by providing pathways for career opportunities that come with increased leadership responsibilities and involve increased compensation.
• Improve student achievement by strengthening instruction.
The department of education reports all 364 Iowa school districts have applied for planning grants to support local development of Teacher Leadership and Compensation systems. Those districts selected to participate in the first year will be notified by early March.
Included in the facts and questions about TLC on the department of education website is a question: Will adoption of a Teacher Leadership and Compensation system affect property taxes?
Answer: There should be no local property tax implications from the adoption of the TLC system.