Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Teacher Quality Committee FAQ's

Teacher quality committee FAQ's

Here's what we know. The law is being interpreted and more Q&A's are on their way.
Q:May a district opt-out of the professional development funds?
A: No, all districts and AEAs must participate in all aspects of the Student Achievement and Teacher Quality program, including professional development.

Q: Who is ultimately responsible for creating the teacher quality committee?
A: Per Iowa Code Chapter 284.4, the school board must carry out all aspects of Teacher Quality. Therefore, the board is ultimately responsible to see that a teacher quality committee is established.

Q: What if the teacher quality committee cannot reach an agreement on use of the professional development funds?A: The funds may only be used for professional development purposes and would be carried into the following school year. If agreement is not reached, the funds may not simply be equally distributed to teachers as salary. Note that the district must annually report to the Department of Education how professional development funds are used.

Q: What if a district wishes to use funds appropriated in SF 277 for professional development? Must they have the approval of the teacher quality committee?A: Yes, the teacher quality committee has responsibility for professional development funds appropriated in SF 277 for 2007-08. The duties of the teacher quality committee begin July 1 and should focus on the use and distribution of professional development funds to implement and support the overall district, attendance center, and individual plans.

Q: May a district move forward with professional development plans already made for the 07-08 year?A: The district administration may elect to move forward with plans for the 2007-08 school year using funds such as general funds, unexpended state professional development funds from the 2006-07 school year, Title I, Title IIA, etc. The district may not move forward with the expenditures of 2007-08 professional development funds without the teacher quality committee approval.

Q: What if the district already developed a school calendar with the equivalent of an extra contract day for professional development and planned to use professional development funds from SF 277 to pay for the extra contract day?A: The teacher quality committee determines the use of the professional development funds appropriated in SF 277 for 2007-08. The committee could certainly decide to use SF 277 funds for the purpose of meeting the goal of adding the equivalent of one additional contract day of professional development. In cases where the planned professional development follows the Iowa Professional Development Model, teacher quality committees are strongly encouraged to support the equivalent of an extra professional development day. The district administration could also use other allowable revenue sources (e.g. general fund, Title I, Title IIA, unexpended state 2006-07 P.D. funds, etc.) to fund extra contract days for professional development.

Q: What if the certified employee organization and the board had already negotiated the addition of one more contract day for 2007-08? Does the teacher quality committee have to use funds allocated through SF 277 to pay for the extra day?
A: The language of any locally bargained agreement must be examined. Refer to your legal counsel for guidance.

Q: What is the ideal size and composition for a teacher quality committee?
A: The size and composition of the committee is locally determined. In a small district with only one or two administrators, the committee will naturally be quite small. It’s possible in very small districts that the committee would be two or four individuals. But in order to function effectively and efficiently, larger districts should consider limiting the size of the committee. Regardless of the size of the committee, representation should include, to the extent possible, various grade levels/buildings (elementary, middle, high school). Ideally, members of the committee should have a working knowledge of effective professional development practices and the Iowa Professional Development Model.

Q: Since professional development funds are allocated to districts on a per teacher/per diem basis, must the funds be paid on a per diem basis?A: SF 277 does not require professional development funds to be paid on a per diem basis. The teacher quality committee determines the use and distribution of the funds.

Q: SF 277 allows compensation of the teachers on the committee for work beyond the normal workday. What’s the source of those funds? Could the funds be used to pay for sub costs if the committee elects to meet during the "workday?"
A: The compensation comes directly from the district’s allocation for professional development (the district’s share of the $20 million). The funds may also be used to pay for substitute costs if the committee elects to meet during the workday. Districts may already have agreed upon compensation for teacher committee work of this nature that will determine levels of compensation. If there is no agreed-upon compensation language, it is advised that in the first year of implementation an addendum be added to the bargaining agreement.

Q: One of the duties of the teacher quality committee is to monitor the district teacher evaluation requirements to ensure they are "…conducted in a fair and consistent manner throughout the school district or agency." Does this monitoring include teacher dismissal processes per Iowa Code Chapter 279?A: The teacher quality committee responsibility to monitor the evaluation is limited to the evaluation processes in Iowa Code Chapter 284 (Teacher Quality and Student Achievement Law). Other employment issues are addressed in Iowa Code Chapter 279 and are not the responsibility of the committee.

Q:Does the monitoring of the teacher evaluation requirements include having the committee review an individual teacher’s evaluation?A: No, "monitor" means to review the process by which teachers are evaluated to ensure the overall process is fair and consistent. Any concerns about the evaluation process should be highlighted by the committee and reported to the certified employee organization and the board.

Q: What happens if our district doesn’t use all the allocated market factor incentive funds in one year?
A: Districts are allowed to carry market factor incentive funds into the following school year. Given the timing of the hiring process, it is recognized that market factor incentives are needed in late winter/early spring during prime hiring time.

Q: Are any portions of market factor incentives subject to negotiation and bargaining?
A: One of the duties of the teacher quality committee is to make recommendations to the school board and certified bargaining representative regarding the expenditures of market factor incentives. The role of the committee is limited to recommendations. The school board determines the portion of market factor incentives to be used for allowable expenditures (e.g. portions for salaries, educational opportunities and support, moving expenses, and housing expenses, etc). Market factor incentive is now subject to negotiation and bargaining but only for that portion being used to pay for additional teacher salaries. Expenses such as "educational opportunities and support, moving expenses, and housing expenses…" are not subject to negotiation.

From the Iowa Department of Education memo to public school and area education agency administrators, May 18, 2007.