Washington School District seeks grant
The Washington Community School District (WCSD) will apply for a grant through the Iowa Department of Education for a teacher leadership compensation (TLC) system grant.
According to the Educate Iowa Web site, TLC would reward teachers with leadership opportunities and pay increases, provide competitive wages for new teachers and support from other teachers, and would promote learning among the teaching community from one another. The TLC system was passed by the Iowa Legislature in 2012. The Iowa Department of Education’s goal is to have all districts participating by the 2016-17 school year.
The application process was discussed at the WCSD school board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
If the district is awarded the grant, it would be for $500,000, which would go directly toward teachers’ salaries and could add positions to the district, said WCSD superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen. Currently, the district has 73 stipend positions, he said. If the district receives the grant, 50 percent of the stipend positions would take on a leadership role.
“The application is due Jan. 31, and we will be notified March 1,” Jorgensen said.
School board member Heidi Vittetoe asked if the TLC program would change the culture of how teaching is done currently and Jorgensen said yes. There would be a lot of peer teaching and coaching.
Also, this would bring teachers to collaborate together, which is something they don’t get to do too often right now, said WCSD curriculum director Veta Thode.
Vittetoe said it would be interesting to see how the teachers collaborate with one another. For the TLC program, evaluations are proposed to be done among the teachers, which is non-binding.
She said she thought it was an ecumenical way to bring change to the education system in Iowa. However, if it works it will be exciting.
School board president Eric Turner asked how the TLC program would change the principals’ position. Washington High School principal Erik Buchholz said he would be running meetings less because the teachers would do it.
“One of the benefits is depending what the state says with evaluations—if we have to start evaluating a teacher every year I wouldn’t have time to do that,” Buchholz said. “This would have an opportunity to free me up in terms of looking at the education within the building itself. It puts kind of more of a burden on the group to improve instead of me.”
Board member Troy Suchan asked Jorgensen what would happen to the schools that don’t get the grant. Would this become another unfunded mandate? Jorgensen said the grants are divided up into three years so the schools could reapply.