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Provo, Utah, Citizens Approve A Career-Ladder for Teachers

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Citizens in Provo, Utah, voted late last month to approve the transfer of funds from the school district's capital-improvements budget in order to establish a career-ladder plan for teachers.

But the transfer of funding may also make it necessary for the school district to develop a year-round school session for its 20 elementary and secondary schools, according to James G. Bergera, assistant superintendent for instruction.

Only 15 percent of the voting population turned out to vote on the referendum, but voters approved the measure by a 3-to-1 margin, said Mr. Bergera.

Although the funding transfer will provide Provo City Schools with an additional $1 million for teacher salaries and development of the four-step career-ladder plan, there will be that much less available for building the new school facilities that the rapidly growing district needs, he explained.

As a result, the school district may institute year-round schooling, Mr. Bergera said, adding that a trial 12-month program will begin at the Westridge Elementary School this summer.

Rotating Schedule

The school population will be divided into four sections and the system will operate on a rotating schedule, with periods of 45 days in class and 15 days off. Students will still attend classes for 180 days a year.

The career-ladder plan will include four steps: probationary teacher, professional teacher, teacher helper, and teacher leader. Mr. Bergera said he expects about 50 percent of the teaching staff to be on the upper levels as teacher helpers and teacher leaders.

"Forty percent will be teacher helpers and will be given $1,000 a year for assignments above and beyond their teaching duties," Mr. Bergera said.

Professional teachers (the step between probationary teacher and teacher helper) will apply for the additional assignments as they become available.

About 10 percent of the faculty will have the title of "teacher leader" and will be provided the additional $1,000 plus a "per diem" amount for leadership activities such as curriculum development.

According to Mr. Bergera, teachers in the school system have been "generally positive" about the career-ladder plan, but, he added, implementing the program still "requires quite a lot of work."--cc

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