New salary ranges shaped by feedback from teachers, administrators
Revised market based pay system reduces number of ‘bands,’ increases starting pay
CASTLE ROCK – When Douglas County School District recruiters begin their work this week, meeting with potential future DCSD teachers, they will be using a newly revised market based pay system, which still allows the district the flexibility to compete for the best teachers, especially those in hard-to-fill positions, while also providing more positional equity within the system.
Over the past six years, since market based pay was implemented in DCSD, there has been continual feedback regarding the way that teaching positions were spread among the six pay bands. For instance, second, third, fourth and fifth-grade teachers were in the first pay band, whereas first-grade teachers were in the second band and sixth-grade teachers were in the third.
The original intent was for the bands to match market forces, so the differentiator was the number of quality candidates that would apply for each position. Interim Superintendent Erin Kane and her staff, however, recognized that the bands were causing morale issues within the system.
As part of her 11-point action plan (Action 8), Kane asked her team to find ways to “refine the market-based pay structure to create strategies that will simplify DCSD’s pay system with a focus on valuing people.”
As part of the process, Kane, her team and the Human Resources department gathered feedback from the system about the market based pay system.
“We gathered all of the feedback we heard from school leaders, teachers, from community members and we put it together into a needs assessment,” explained DCSD Director of Compensation Mary Chesla, during her presentation to the Board of Education on Tuesday, February 21.
Below are some of the biggest things that teachers and administrators told the Human Resources team they wanted:
- Fewer ranges
- Positional equity at elementary levels (having elementary teachers paid within same salary range)
- Competitive on the Front Range
- Hard to Hire position definition
As a result, the HR team proposed a simplified structure for pay ranges.
“Our proposal is to move to three [salary ranges], rather than six [pay bands],” Chesla said.
Below is a comparison of the past structure, versus the new one presented on Tuesday night. As you’ll notice, most of DCSD’s teaching positions are now in a “General” category. The two columns to the right contain positions that are hard for the district to fill, including specialists.
“[Specialists] are the positions that have competition outside of school district. They have the opportunity to go anywhere to get a job and they’ll pay more than a school district will,” Chesla explained. “They are dedicated to working in school districts, which is why they work here for less pay. We, however, don’t want them to leave us just based on what the next best offer is. We want to make sure that we pay them equitably for their expertise in education.”
Chesla says HR determined which positions would fall in the Hard to Fill category by analyzing historical data hiring ratios and determining which positions have traditionally had few quality candidates.
“They are truly hard to hire,” Chesla said.
Additionally, the human resources team recognized that in order to be competitive against other neighboring school districts, the district’s starting pay rate must be raised.
During Tuesday night’s meeting, the Board approved the staff proposal – raising the starting salary to $39,000 on a 4-3 vote.
“We have no idea what they will do for next year, but we believe our proposal of $39,000 for a starting salary is reasonable and will put us in a competitive place with our neighboring districts,” Chesla explained.
LEARN MORE: Watch the full presentation to the Board of Education