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Change to merit-based pay scale has Ogden teachers upset



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OGDEN -- The Ogden School District's decision to put teachers on a performance-based pay scale is drawing both praise and criticism. The controversy, though, is less about the actual change being made and more about how the district handled the switch.

Teachers found out about the new kind of contract by letter two weeks ago. Teachers and union leaders are holding an emergency meeting to discuss the new pay system and to hopefully get some answers about the change many feel is being forced on them.

The new system does away with collective bargaining in favor of individual contracts between teachers and districts.

Nothing will change for two years, but starting in the 2013-2014 school year, 25 percent of teacher raises would be based on performance. Within six years, the full raise would be merit-based.

Teachers were given 20 days to sign on the dotted line or face new employment.

Ogden School District superintendent Noel Zabriskie said he completely understands that teachers may be feeling a bit blind-sided by the district's decision and tight timeline. With a new school year fast approaching, though, he says board members felt they had to move forward and make the change.

The board's decision is getting the green light from conservative think-tank The Sutherland Institute.

Derek Monson, with the Sutherland Institute, said, "The public schools are meant to serve the students and the parents, not the other way around."

The Salt Lake City think-tank believes that happens when a district rewards its best teachers instead of paying salaries based on tenure and time-served. The institute also supports merit-based pay for school principals.

Teachers will rally against the board of education's pay ultimatum 10 o'clock Thursday morning at Liberty Park in Ogden.

E-mail: lprichard@ksl.com

Lori Prichard

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