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Kansas City Plan Would Boost Teacher Pay, Responsibility

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District and teachers' union officials in Kansas City, Mo., have unveiled a restructuring plan that would allow teachers to earn up to $77,000 a year by 1994 in return for taking on more school-based responsibilities.

The proposal, described at a school-board meeting last month, calls for a career-ladder program for both teachers and administrators, a peer-review program for teachers, expanded school-site management, and a longer school year.

The fate of the plan, however, is likely to rest on whether or not a federal judge will accept it as part of the district's court-ordered desegregation plan.

Under previous orders in the district's desegregation lawsuit, the state of Missouri could be compelled to fund part of the plan's cost, which is projected to be at least $100 million over six years.

School-board members are expected to approve the plan this month, after district and union officials provide further details about the proposal and its costs.

The board must also decide whether to ask the court to order the state to provide funding for the proposal as part of the district's desegregation plan. School officials have said the district is unlikely to be able to fund the plan on its own.

Designers of the proposal say it resembles restructuring initiatives adopted in Dade County, Fla., Rochester, N.Y., and elsewhere.

Teachers would have a greater voice in determining their school's staffing needs, backers say, and would be consulted about budget matters.

"The whole delivery system for education would be flipped upside-down here," said Norman Hudson, president of the Kansas City Federation of Teachers.

The career-ladder system in the proposal would have four steps. First-year employees, regardless of their experience in other school systems, would be interns, who would work under the direction of a "master'' teacher or administrator. Employees who successfully completed the internship would become "resident" teachers or principals for four years.

After five years in the system, a resident teacher with a master's degree could become a "professional," with primary responsibility for teaching at-risk children. Professional teachers also would be expected to serve on school committees.

Administrators could reach the professional level after five years of service and advanced education.

Professional teachers and administrators could apply for three-year terms as master employees, who would take on more responsibility for higher pay.

Under the plan, master employees would be mentors and trainers of their junior colleagues, and would also serve as as peer evaluators, curriculum writers, or grade or department chairmen.

Top-level employees could earn as much as $77,000, depending on the rate of inflation, during the 1994-95 school year, sponsors indicate.

To oversee the restructuring effort, the proposal calls for a joint governing panel composed of five members named by the superintendent, five named by the union, and a chairman selected by both groups.--ef

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