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State audit criticizes Pasco district's differentiated pay policies



For the second time in three years, state auditors have criticized the Pasco school district for its failure to implement differential pay for teachers and administrators.

A newly released 2012-13 operational audit reports that the district has not established a documented process to identify employees who might qualify for added salary, based on statutory guidelines. The relevant law states that a district school board "shall provide differentiated pay for both instructional personnel and school administrators based upon district-determined factors, including, but not limited to, additional responsibilities, school demographics, critical shortage areas, and level of job performance difficulties."

"(W)ithout a Board-established documented process for determining which instructional personnel are to receive differentiated pay, the District may be limited in its ability to demonstrate that the various differentiated pay factors are consistently considered and applied," the document states, just as in a 2009-10 audit report.

In his official response to the findings, superintendent Kurt Browning wrote to the Auditor General that the district cannot unilaterally set compensation, including differentiated pay, because of collective bargaining rules.

"The District has properly negotiated additional compensation for teachers who take on additional responsibilities or who have been determined, through the collective bargaining process, to have a higher degree of job performance," Browning wrote.

He stated that the amounts and the process for determining eligibility are clearly put forth in Addendum B of the instructional master contract. Addendum B is a list of supplements. He further noted that the district has negotiated recruitment and retention bonuses for teachers at the district's Differentiated Accountability schools, as outlined in a memorandum of understanding within the contract.

Finally, Browning wrote, the district and United School Employees of Pasco have not identified any employment areas of critical shortages requiring added pay: "The District is again reviewing existing staffing levels and vacancy rates, and the superintendent's staff will take any appropriate recommendations for future critical shortage areas to the bargaining table so that an appropriate differentiated pay amount can be properly negotiated."

His response did not prompt the auditors to change their recommendation, though, that the district should set up processes to comply with the state requirement.

The district's past administration reacted similarly to the 2010 finding, and pledged to take steps to resolve the issue.

[Last modified: Friday, January 3, 2014 11:07am]


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