Model contract changes

by April Mabry

Q: What changes were made to the model contracts for 2017?
 
A: The most significant changes to the TASB Model Contracts this year are those relating to the federal changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) removing the requirement for teachers to be highly qualified. Details about the specific changes are listed below.
 
  • Certification. The wording was changed to track the language from ESSA, which requires teachers working in a program supported with federal funds to meet applicable state certification and licensure requirements. A reference to a teacher’s relinquishment of certification has been added in light of the new 19 Texas Administrative Code § 230.107. 
  • Highly Qualified Status. Language referencing the No Child Left Behind Act, 20 U.S.C. § 7801, was removed. Highly qualified status is no longer required under ESSA. 
  • Criminal History Review. Provisions relating to criminal history review were changed to reflect the mandatory requirement for certified employees to submit to criminal history background checks. 
  • Representations: During the Contract. This paragraph was revised to clarify that the time frame for employee notification should be the time period specified in TASB Policy DH(LOCAL), or seven calendar days, if no time period is specified in local policy. 
  • Incentive and Performance Pay. The references to specific state incentive pay statutes were removed as the specified program was not funded by the Texas Legislature. 
  • Termination of Contract. Termination provisions were edited to better track Texas Education Code § 21.211(a).
 
The 2017 TASB Model Contracts and related documents are available in the HR Library. These samples are prepared as general guidelines. School districts should consult with their local attorney to customize these samples for local use. Questions regarding the new contracts may be directed to TASB Legal Services at 800-580-5345 or TASB HR Services at 800-580-7782 or hrservices@tasb.org

 

Most health insurance premiums rising in Texas districts, cost passed on to employees

by Troy Bryant

Most responding Texas school districts (82 percent) saw their health insurance costs rise in 2016‒17, according to the latest health insurance premiums survey conducted by TASB HR Services. Of the districts that saw increases, some 95 percent passed all or some of the additional costs on to employees.

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Ninety percent of responding districts participate in a TRS-ActiveCare PPO or HMO plan. Other districts are self insured, fully insured, or partially self insured.

TRS-ActiveCare PPO plan rate changes varied for 2016‒17. The most common plan in Texas schools, TRS-ActiveCare 1-HD (high deductible), saw no changes in premiums at any of the coverage tiers. The newest plan, TRS-ActiveCare Select, had an average rate increase of more than 2 percent across coverage tiers, while TRS-ActiveCare 2—the highest cost plan—premium increased an average of 5 percent. TRS-ActiveCare HMO rate changes varied more widely; Scott & White premiums increased 5 percent on average, while FirstCare had double-digit increases at every tier.

District participants were asked to provide monthly premium rates and district contribution amounts for the employee-only and employee-plus-family plans with the highest number of employees enrolled in the district. The median employee-only monthly district contribution amount was unchanged from last year ($275); the employee-plus-family contribution rose $13 (from $275 to $288).
 
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According to the survey, the median employee-only total monthly premium is $341 ($4,092 annually); for the employee-plus-family tier, the total monthly premium is $1,231 ($14,772 annually). Both rates are equivalent to the TRS-ActiveCare 1-HD plan.

The employee’s portion of the total monthly cost reported in the survey is $91 for the employee-only plan and $972 for employees with family coverage. Some 10 percent of surveyed districts reported paying 100 percent of the employee-only insurance premium.
 
According to the 2016 Milliman Medical Index (MMI), the average annual cost of health care for a family of four covered by a PPO plan in the U.S. is $21,510 (not including employee out-of-pocket costs). Of the total, $14,793 (69 percent) is an employer subsidy; $6,717 (31 percent) is the employee’s contribution. In comparison, for family health care costs, Texas districts subsidize 23 percent of the total cost, while the employee’s contribution makes up 77 percent of the total.

National surveys indicated a slowdown in premium increases when looking across the U.S. According to a 2016 survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust (HRET), the average monthly premium for employee-only is $536 ($6,435 annually) and the average family premium is $1,512 ($18,142 annually)—a 3 percent average increase from last year. The national survey noted that average family premiums increased more slowly over the past five years (20 percent increase from 2011 and 2016) than the previous five years (31 percent increase from 2006 and 2011).
 
Kaiser/HRET noted this trend can partly be attributed to a rapid rise in deductibles, as more workers switch to high-deductible plans. The average deductible for an individual is $1,478, up $159 or 12 percent from 2015. In comparison, the ActiveCare 2 individual deductible is $1,000 and the ActiveCare Select individual deductible is $1,200. The TRS-ActiveCare 1-HD deductible is $2,500. Deductible amounts for all TRS PPO coverage plans were unchanged from last year.
 
Finally, participants in the TASB survey also were asked if their district implemented other health care cost-saving measures. Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs), onsite flu shots/immunizations, and telehealth services are additional benefits most commonly provided by districts, according to the survey.
 
Data was collected from 308 Texas public school districts in November 2016. HR Services member districts can still participate in the 2016‒17 health insurance premiums survey by visiting HR Surveys in DataCentral. Users can download customized reports of the full results upon completion of the survey.
 

Building teacher career pathways in Texas schools, part 2

Editor's note: This is the final part of a two-part series on teacher career pathways. To view this first article, click here


by Cindy Clegg

Big Spring ISD all in on MCL model

In our previous article on this topic, we stated the most popular teacher career pathway model chosen by Texas schools has been the multi-clasroom leader (MCL).

The MCL model was used at three elementary campuses in Big Spring ISD last school year. The district was struggling to improve retention and support many beginning teachers. The MCL model has been so successful that the district is expanding it to another elementary campus and adding two more leader positions at the intermediate school.

Sharon Chancy is the districtwide instructional support specialist in Big Spring and her job is to support the classroom leaders. She meets with the leaders monthly and helps them to plan professional development throughout the year. 

The campus-based classroom leaders have two hours of structured planning time with their teams weekly and model at least two classes with each team member during the school year. Each campus uses their MCL in a different way. One campus uses MCLs to lead content teams in math and reading across grades 1 to 4 while another campus uses their MCLs to lead in all content areas for a grade level.

The key to success, according to Chancy, is to select the right leaders and hold them accountable. She explained, “In schools where the leaders were effective and returned in those roles, teacher retention improved and student scores doubled or tripled in growth over the other schools that were not supported in the same way.”  She attributes the improvements in student growth to better lesson planning and professional development from the classroom leaders.

Richardson ISD builds on existing leader roles

The Richardson (RISD) story began two years ago when the district was struggling with how to reduce teacher turnover. Teachers were surveyed to find out what would entice them to stay. The top issue identified by teachers was more opportunity for growth and recognition. This understanding led to the development of the RISD Teacher Career Pathways Model.

RISD had teacher specialist and teacher leader roles already in place at each campus. All that was missing was the visibility and compensation connection. With no grant money available, new funding had to be carved out of a lean budget which meant starting small. The district is now in the first year of implementation of a more robust and visible teacher career pathway and plans to do more in the future.

The district started by identifying existing teacher leader and specialist roles on all of the campuses and then decided which of those roles warranted additional compensation. Each leader role receives a salary stipend. Teacher leader roles receive variable amounts related to their scope of responsibility. Campus specialists receive $1,000 and district specialists receive $1,500.

The RISD model is illustrated below. The performance recognition piece for regular classroom teacher roles was envisioned before the implementation of T-TESS and have not yet been developed. The district plans to revisit this concept after more data on T-TESS results and student growth measures become available.

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Round Rock ISD fully integrates the educator career pathway

Round Rock ISD (RRISD) took an approach similar to Richardson ISD, by building a career pathway around leadership roles that already existed in the district. The district had established positions for instructional specialists and instructional coaches at each campus. However, there was no additional compensation attached to these roles other than additional duty days.

The difference is that Round Rock fully integrated the entire base salary structure for all educators and instructional leaders. Instead of adding stipends to a separate teacher salary schedule, RRISD added two new pay ranges for instructional specialists and instructional coaches and built a connected pay range structure from teacher up through campus and district instructional leader jobs.

Teachers who are promoted to a teacher specialist or instructional coach will receive a promotional adjustment in pay just as an administrator would. In the first year of implementation, each job incumbent in the new pay grades 503 and 504 received a larger daily rate increase than regular teachers to position them at a higher pay level.  

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In both Richardson and Round Rock, teachers can now see more advancement opportunity connected to the classroom.  Those who just want to be great teachers can aspire to achieve more, be recognized, and compensated more.

Worth every penny

Both Richardson and Round Rock ISDs implemented their teacher career pathways without the benefit of state or federal grant money amid tight budgets. In spite of the additional cost involved, their school boards were enthusiastic and supportive of these recommendations.

Dr. Christopher Goodson, assistant superintendent in Richardson ISD, explained, “Once the board understood the reach of teacher leaders and how all teachers would be supported through this program, they fully supported the budget and everything we were trying to do. They understand that this money represents an investment in the development of all of our teachers.”

An effective teacher in the classroom is the most powerful tool we have to promote student learning. Investing in their growth and development should be worth every penny.

For more information on how to build you own teacher career pathways, look out for the next edition of Texas Lone Star Magazine

HR Extras

Survey finds 40 percent of global employers report talent shortages

A new study by ManpowerGroup discovered nearly half of all global employers are lacking in the talent department.

This is the highest percentage of employers who feel they have a talent shortage in a decade. To address the issue, employers are putting a bigger emphasis on training and developing existing employees to fill open positions.

Fifty-three percent of employers offer training and development to existing staff in hopes of improving the talent levels at their companies, while 36 percent are focused on recruiting outside the talent pool.

The survey found 26–28 percent of companies are exploring alternative sourcing strategies, providing additional perks and benefits to recruits, and paying higher salary packages to recruits. Nineteen percent are simply outsourcing the work.

You can find out more about the survey and what strategies companies are employing here.

HEB CEO pledges $100 million for public school administrator training academy

Out of his own private resources, HEB chairman and CEO Charles Butt is making a $100 million donation to help create The Holdsworth Center in Austin, a training academy for public school administrators.

The academy will educate school administrators by providing training from national leadership experts and support current superintendents and principals. It will also aim to groom the next generation of education leaders in Texas.

Sixteen districts have been invited to apply for the center’s first classes, which begin in June. The application process will be open to all districts in the future, but the inaugural year will be exclusive to just six districts, chosen in March. The Holdsworth Center executives are seeking districts with a commitment to talent development and human capital, with a strong alignment of vision among top administrators.

The primary goal of the nonprofit school is to improve public education as a whole through well-trained leaders.