By Mason W. Canales

Killeen Daily Herald

COPPERAS COVE - Copperas Cove Independent School District trustees delayed action on a new employee compensation plan that would raise teacher salaries by $1,000 during the first year.

The board now is expected to decide next week whether positions district-wide will get a raise, which will include the starting salaries for new teachers and 81 auxiliary and professional positions that are being paid below market value.

"I need to digest it a little bit," board Trustee Mike Wilburn said of a Texas Association of School Boards presentation for a market-based compensation plan that was given 90 minutes before Tuesday's meeting to vote on the issue.

The district currently uses a step-plan approach for raises, which it froze last year to deal with state funding cuts.

The district also enacted an early-retirement incentive program, closed the district for a week during the summer, increased classroom size at the high school and eliminated certain positions but not jobs to accommodate state cuts.

A market-based system would allow the district to decide what groups would get a raise and what percent employees could receive in a given year, said Ann Patton, senior compensation consultant for the school boards association.

The group also suggested not paying people above the maximum market value set by other area schools and what similar positions are paid in private sector. It also recommended not providing raises for people who currently more than their position's market value.

Patton told the board several school districts already are on the system. Those districts are CCISD's competitors in seeking employees, such as Georgetown, Killeen, Leander, Temple and Midway. The suggested raises were based on keeping Cove competitive with those districts as an employer.

"Looking at your teachers, you are very, very competitive," said Patton, about the present year. Other districts around the state, however, are already giving raises and those raises will make Cove a lot less competitive.

According to the presentation, the cost of giving such raises and enacting the new compensation plan would be about $1 million in the first year.

Superintendent Rose Cameron said providing raises through the step plan normally cost the district about $600,000, and that after the first year the district would expect a lower cost of about $400,000 a year for raises on the compensation plan.

"How would we pay for it?" asked Trustee Bob Weiss.

Everything the district has done to save money and protect against budget shortfalls has helped make such change possible, said Cameron, who explained the district would pay for the increased compensation with current funding, mostly from this year.

"What you were able to do, is make (the system) more efficient," she said.

Other questions that prevented the board from voting on the issue were why certain positions were placed into particular pay grades and categories of employment.

The district has been working on a market-based compensation plan for almost a year with the association's help.

The board will take up the compensation plan again at a 3 p.m. meeting May 17.

Contact Mason W. Canales at or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.

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