Some Granite District teachers will likely be working fewer hours on extra projects as a result of an evaluation of the career-ladder program now under way.
The job-enlargement portion of the career-ladder program has been halted for two weeks to evaluate where cuts will be made if necessary.Linda Benson, Granite elementary education director who also oversees career ladders, said the supplemental pay program "has not run out of money, but we know we are overbudgeted. The program will be stopped for two weeks while we readjust hours to meet budget."
The statewide career-ladder program provides extra teacher pay for things such as working additional contract days, doing additional work beyond usual teaching and for superior performance.
Approximately 1,500 of Granite's more than 3,500 teachers are involved in the job-enlargement program.
Benson said it will take about a week to get the number of teacher work hours entered on the computer and another week for schools to evaluate where cuts may be necessary.
"Our projection is that there will be a cut in hours they (teachers) can work at school. It will not be a case of anything being completely cut, but less time for each project," Benson said.
"In January, we'll look at costs of the program and decide what to do from there," she said. She said Granite has looked at cuts that would have the least impact on school programs.
The financial problem is limited to the job-enlargement part of career ladders - the part in which teachers perform additional work beyond their usual duties.
"We know that if we keep the projects at their current level that we could be as much as 8 percent over budget by the end of the school year. We won't know the exact amount until we get all the data in," she said.
Benson said the district spends a certain portion (approximately $2.5 million) of its career-ladder budget for job enlargement. "When we give that money out to schools we do it on an average hourly wage so that teachers could begin projects that were year-round or proj-ects that needed to be done before school started last fall."
Lamoine Heaton, co-director of Granite Education Association, said the average salary projected for the job-enlargement portion this year was $21 an hour.
Fifty percent of the district's portion of the state career-ladder money is allotted for the extended days or the several additional contract days for which all teachers are paid. This isn't affected by the financial problem. Neither is the performance bonus portion, which is required by law.
A contributing factor to funding problems for job enlargement is that the Utah Legislature has not increased the state appropriation for career ladders for the past several years, Heaton said.
"We asked that the Legislature index (career ladders) to the WPU (weighted pupil unit), so when that increases, so will money increase for career ladders," Heaton said.
"This is something we have asked the Legislature to do for a couple of years. As the number of teachers (on the program) increases the money remains stable. There is not enough money to fund the pie. The Legislature has never fully funded career ladders. It was supposed to be funded in three phases; only two have been funded. There is another $14 million that needs to be funded," he explained.