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Brown Deer officials discuss tying administrators' salaries with student achievement

District preparing for transition from three to two schools

Oct. 24, 2012

Brown Deer - With a major overhaul on the horizon for the 2013-14 school year, district officials are in the process of discussing administrator contracts as the number of operating schools are whittled down from three to two.

The board held an open dialogue with the district's five administrators directly involved with student achievement at a School Board meeting Monday.

Participants included Ted Noll, director of pupil services; Jim Piatt, principal at Brown Deer High School; Greg Schaffer, director of teaching and learning; Kortney Smith, principal at Dean Elementary School; and Ellis Turrentine, principal at Brown Deer Middle School.

Tuesday's preliminary discussion delved into a number of issues pertaining to administrators' contracts, including salaries, benefits, responsibilities and the number of required work days within the course of a school year.

"We're doing this now to plan for our transition," District Administrator Deb Kerr said, referring to the reconfiguration next year that will entail an elementary school and combined middle-high school.

Throughout Tuesday's discussion, student achievement was an overarching concept as compensating administrators with salaries and benefits entered into the equation.

School Board President Gary Williams said administrators, particularly building principals, need to be held to the same standards as teachers. In a post-Act 10 environment, there has been discussion of evaluating teachers and tying compensation directly to student achievement.

"At the center of all this, we have to look at student outcomes," Williams said. "That has to be a factor. Our kids have to be successful."

To that end, Kerr said the district's existing administrative team has been working collaboratively and, she said, gaining traction toward a path of raising the bar across all grade levels.

"One of the most important factors in improving student achievement is the leadership in the building," Kerr said. "This team has been working together diligently. I think the important thing, moving forward, is to have good contracts if you want to have good administrators."

With much of the canvas still blank in 2013-14 and beyond, the board earlier this year issued administrators one-year contracts that expire June 30. Administrators are traditionally offered two-year contracts.

In addition to evaluation tools, the board and administrators discussed benefits and other terms that would be included in contracts.

Several of the administrators discussed what they value in a total compensation package. Piatt, for example, said he appreciated tuition reimbursement - particularly since coursework at the administrative level can be costly.

"I believe that's an important factor," Piatt said of the benefit.

Each of the five administrators that came before the board are at different levels of expertise and seniority within the district. Schaffer is the most tenured of the group, having put in 27 years of service with the district. The disparity could result in very different contracts from one administrator to the next.

Director of Finance Emily Koczela is in the process of examining compensation packages at similar districts.

In the meantime, the School Board will be soliciting residents' feedback at a forum next week. Kerr will be meeting with administrators to continue hashing over some of the specifics of future contracts, and she will share further details at a board meeting scheduled for Nov. 12.

Kerr said she would like to have the contracts complete by December, though the process could extend into late January.

AT A GLANCE

WHO:Brown Deer School Board

WHAT: forum about district's future, Community Conversation: Transforming Our Schools

WHEN: 6 p.m. Oct. 30

WHERE: Brown Deer Middle School, 5757 W. Dean Road

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