Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Teacher pay issues affect Tucumcari school operations


October 21, 2014

QCS Managing Editor

The National Education Association New Mexico’s protest of the state’s teacher evaluation system has made its effects known in the Tucumcari Public School District.

Tucumcari Schools Superintendent Aaron McKinney told his school board Monday that a public records request from the teachers’ union seeking teacher evaluation forms is taking a great deal of staff time. Teacher evaluation forms, he said, must be sent in a way that does not reveal teachers’ identities, which makes complying with the request time-consuming.State law demands that records requests be completed within 15 days, McKinney said, but the district is seeking an extension until Dec. 19 to make information available to the union.

McKinney also said the state education department has complicated matters by telling the district that teacher evaluation forms sent to the education department contain errors.

“They don’t tell us what the errors are or where, but they say they won’t accept the forms unless the errors are corrected,” he said. Tucumcari’s complaint is shared by other districts, McKinney said.

The teachers’ union on Sept. 29 field a lawsuit against the state’s Public Education Department that alleges the state’s teacher evaluation system, which emphasizes test score improvement as its most heavily weighted measurement, violates local control provisions in the state constitution, according to a Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper article that was quoted by Martha Whitesides, who represented the local teachers association at Monday’s board meeting.

The union alleges that local districts have the constitutional authority to “establish policies, guideline and procedures for teacher evaluations,” according to the state constitution, according to the New Mexican article.

The article also quotes public education department officials as calling the lawsuit a political ploy to help elect Gary King, the Democrat challenger to incumbent Gov. Susana Martinez, in the governor’s race.The school board also approved changes in the salary schedule for the district’s bus and vehicle drivers. The changes simplify the pay system for drivers. A district document shows that pay levels now range from $6,600 per year for a driver whose route is 15 to 35 miles to $17,000 per year for a driver who puts in 183 to 203 miles per week.

In the previous system, a driver was paid a flat $7,175.76 for the first 20 miles. Pay was adjusted at a rate of $71.40 per mile over 20 on the driver’s route to determine a 180 day pay scale. The resulting rate per day was then multiplied by 152 to yield the salary for the year.

The new system seems to raise pay for some drivers while reducing it for others.

Under the previous system, the lowest-mileage driver received $6,523.79 for driving a 27-mile route. That same driver would earn $6,600 under the new system.

A driver whose route is 75 miles would receive $9,000 under the new system, compared with $9,375.66 under the old system.

The driver with the longest route, 173 miles, received $15,284.41 under the old system. Under the new, that driver would earn $16,000.


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