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Bonus for advanced degrees still likely for Wauwatosa teachers

Wauwatosa district stands behind teacher education

Sept. 19, 2012

Wauwatosa public school teachers would continue to be rewarded for advanced education under a proposal discussed by the School Board last week.

Teachers would earn $1,500 in supplemental pay for a relevant masters degree and an additional $1,500 for a doctorate under a plan presented by Human Resources Director Daniel Chanen.

"It's a recognition as a learning institution that we're recognizing further education of our staff, and I think that's important," Superintendent Phil Ertl said.

Teachers also would be eligible to seek certification from the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, with the district paying a stipend of $1,000 annually for 10 years, after which the teacher would have to reapply, Chanen said.

Most recently, teachers received $1,415 for a doctorate, and more for a masters, Ertl said. The pay would be retroactive to the beginning of the school year, once the teachers and the district reach a collective bargaining agreement.

Base pay is still a bargainable issue under state law, while most other issues, including benefits and work rules, are not. As a payment beyond base pay, the supplement and stipend are administrative decisions, Ertl said.

Even so, the issue of bargaining rights has been clouded after a recent court ruling in Dane County, which appears to restore full bargaining rights to municipal employees, including teachers. In Madison, the teachers union has demanded that the district begin collective bargaining negotiations in light of the decision.

The state attorney general has said he will appeal the Dane County ruling.

Wauwatosa is seeking a legal opinion on where the district stands in regard to bargaining.

Chanen said teachers seeking advanced degrees will have to take relevant programs to be eligible for supplemental pay. Criteria would include the accreditation of the institution, the courses required for the degree and other factors. While this has always been in place, it has been little applied, Chanen said.

Teachers already embarked on a degree program would be eligible for the pay when they finish, he said. Teachers seeking degrees in the future would have their programs reviewed. Teachers with advanced degrees earned before this date earn supplemental pay at rates that were grandfathered before the change of state law.

School Board member Phil Kroner noted that Tony Evers, the state superintendent of schools, has said that teachers' advanced degrees do not help student learning, but Kroner said he believes they do.

Greater adult learning encourages greater student learning, Ertl said.

Kroner suggested that perhaps teachers who have completed programs could demonstrate how it has enhanced their teaching and impart what they learned to other teachers.

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