At Monday night’s 8.26.13 regularly scheduled Worthington Board of Education meeting the school board approved a .5% merit increase for all school district employees. Three years ago when we made new agreements with the Worthington Education Association, the Worthington Education Support Professionals, and our Worthington Administrators, all contracts were aligned with a potential merit increase should specific objectives be met in the 2012-2013 school year.
Worthington Schools used the Ohio Improvement Process which involved four-stages across which processes, structures, tools, and people were connected. Those stages are: (1) use data to identify areas of greatest need; (2) develop a plan to address those areas of need that is built around a limited number of focused goals and strategies to significantly improve instructional practice and student performance; (3) implement the plan with integrity; and (4) monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of the improvement process in changing instructional practice and impacting student performance.
The merit increase included in the agreements aligned all contracts: Superintendent; Treasurer; Principals; Teachers; and Support Staff (kitchen staff, office staff, bus drivers, etc…) with the understanding that a .5% increase would occur if the district in 2012-2013 meets the two objectives outlined in the Ohio Improvement Process plan developed in 2010-2011, or is rated Excellent with Distinction in its state report card rating for the 2012-13 school year performance. (The new state report card eliminated the Excellent with Distinction rating but the agreed upon measurements of the system are all still in place.)
I believe that a major part of our recent school report card success with student value added growth was aligning our goals and objectives for all 1200 Worthington employees. Our employee groups each have a unique job function and they certainly have different responsibilities; however everyone’s efforts are designed to maximize student achievement for all Worthington students. By setting clear and measurable goals that all employees would work towards, we were able to align the individual efforts of many into a cohesive group. There is incredible power when everyone is pulling on the rope in the same direction.
By including a small financial incentive in all contracts and then awarding it at the board of education meeting, the school board first cemented the importance of these singular objectives, and then recognized the accomplishment of our staff.
Motivation is an individual thing. What motivates one person may be different than what motivates another person. I suspect that most of our Worthington employees are not motivated primarily by money. Certainly they are not significantly motivated by .5% (a couple hundred dollars for most employees.) However, I believe they are motivated to do significant work that will make a long-term positive difference in the lives of kids and families. Part of our job as leaders is to make the path clear for them and to help them focus on what matters most. That’s what the merit inclusion in the contracts was designed to do. It was designed to help all of us focus on the work we deemed most important.
In speaking about the merit increase Board of Education member Marc Schare quoted the “A Team” last night saying, “I love it when a plan comes together!”