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Just The Facts

March 7, 2007

Question and answers for Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency employees. Have additional questions? Contact: jtfacts@aea9.k12.ia.us

Question: How is the current position as a building "generalist" different from the new position of "Service Facilitator?" Why the proposed increase in salary for the "Service Facilitator?"

Answer:The Service Facilitator will be responsible for several duties all related to the improvement of the educational system in the building for all students. The building generalist position has been focused on individual student duties. The increased salary for the Service Facilitator is proposed primarily because of the increased accountability for improving student achievement.

Question: Who will determine assignments for next year if we are not part of the “pilot”? and Will there still be head people with the pilot in the second and third years?

Answer:Assignments for the 07-08 year will be made as they have in the past several years. The exact administrative structure for future years has not been determined, but it is likely there will be Head positions.

Question:In looking through the responsibilities listed for each of these two positions on the recent powerpoint---I see that "facilitate solution focused interventions" is only listed under the service facilitator and not on the service provider. Can you share the thinking regarding this? At present the facilitating of solution focused interventions often fits more with the listings under the of service provider.

Answer: It will a responsibility for both positions.

Question:Presently we have staff assigned as"single service providers" in some buildiings rather than several staff to a building. Part of the reasoning for this was to stretch assigned time and for the building and staff to better understand and provide for building needs. As we move to this restructuring---will the single service provider concept continue? and will that individual become both the provider and facilitator in the building? Will there then be more time allotted for this?

Answer:There will not be more time allotted to a building in order to provide Service Facilitation. A single person could be both a Service Provider or a Service Facilitator. Or, we could assign another person to a building that is currently served by one person. But, the overall time assigned to the building would not increase.

Question: Will we know which buildings will be chosen for this pilot prior to the interviews for the Service Facilitators?

Answer: Yes, the buildings will be announced before the interviews for Service Facilitators.

Question: Will the Service Facilitators be full time in one building or more than one depending on the assigned time?

Answer: Yes, Service Facilitators will most likely be assigned to more than one building.

Question: What is the anticipated percent of time the Service Facilitator would be doing the additional duties as compared to "more provider type" services?

Answer: No firm estimate has been made, but it will not be the same each day or week. Maybe 60% would be a good estimate.

Question:It is not clear about posting and hiring positions. I understand that the Sector Coordinators are the three positions open and will be filled on a permanent basis.

Answer: That is correct.

Question: I'm assuming that the Service Facilitator positions and Service Provider positions will be for "the pilot only" districts.

Answer: Yes, that's right.

Question:Will the PI be "required" as part of the application process? Will a candidate be "denied" if they do not agree with taking the PI?

Answer: Yes, the PI is now required of ALL applicants for ALL permanent positions at the Mississippi Bend AEA.

Question: Are the coordinator positions going to be appointed or are others encouraged to apply?

Answer: The Sector Coordinator positions will not be appointed, but selected from the "pool" of applicants who respond to the posting. The positions are posted internally and will also be advertised externally.

Question:In the reply to a question on Just the Facts, you state that” additional allocation will be used to maintain and/or restore unfilled positions”. Maintaining positions is very different from “adding more employees” as stated in your first line of that same paragraph. Which is it: add positions or maintain positions? If adding positions, how many positions and in what departments?

Answer:Whether we maintain or add positions depends on three things: allowable growth; salary settlements and the portion of permanent cuts that are restored.

Question: What are the job qualifications/roles/responsibilities of the new Service Facilitator position?

Answer: Facilitate needs assessment; Inform and coordinate AEA services; Monitor effectiveness of AEA services; Provide SINA support; Assist with system change interventions; Facilitate integration of instruction, learning supports, and leadership interventions; Facilitate solution focused approaches

We will have more information at the meetings next week.

Question: When will job descriptions and applications for these positions be posted?

Answer: The target date for posting is the end of March. Dr. Pelecky and the Division Directors have scheduled AEA Restructuring Updates for staff as follows:

< March 26, 2007 8:00 a.m. Muscatine Service Center

March 26, 2007 3:30 p.m. Bettendorf AEA

March 28, 2007 3:30 p.m. Clinton Service Center

You may attend any one or all of the above meetings. If you are unable to attend any of the sessions, please contact your supervisor as we will be presenting the same information to them at the Leadership Team Meeting on March 21, 2007.

Question: Why is 85% of the staff development money coming out of the special education budget and only 15% coming out of general education?

Answer: The 85/15% split reflects the difference between special education and general education professional development content.

Question:I'm confused about the 1 F.T.E per 500 students. If speech is included in that, we are way over that now in some of my buildings despite losing 1.5 days of service time this year. I also think that buildings with BD programs need more time.

Answer: The 1 F.T.E. of service time per 500 students is an average and reflects the current staffing level across the entire Agency.

Question: I'm curious to know how many buildings are being represented by the large category in the pilot -- over 5500 in the building. Seems a bit lopsided to me, favoring only secondary schools in Davenport. Wouldn't all elementary schools and most of the middle schools fall in the small category?

Answer: The enrollment figures are for districts, not buildings. The Davenport Community School District represents one third of our student population.

Question: If an SF has schools that don’t make the gains expected, can he/she eventually go back to an SP role?

Answer: Lack of performance in any position is handled on an individual, case by case basis. It would be inappropriate, legally and ethically, to pre-determine a course of action with out knowing the context etc.

Question: Will the training be consistent with the IPDM model?

Answer: Yes, all training will be consistent with the IPDM model.

Question: Will there be more discussion time at the next Restructuring Update?

Answer: The sessions will include presentations from each director and ample time for staff questions.

Question:Doesn’t paying these new mid-management positions effectively 15% (10% plus longer contracts) more than their fellow workers set up an unequal pay system similar to the one that existed at the AEA when some professionals were paid more than others because of a “responsibility index” that suggested some jobs were more important than others? This merit based system flew in the face of Deming and contributed to hostilities between departments. PSO fought long and hard to undo this system which was ultimately accomplished.

If these positions are taking on mid-management responsibilities, shouldn’t they be administrators?

Won’t the increased salary scale will be accomplished by having fewer front line staff members? If these positions become administrators, they will be at will employees who can be dismissed without cause by administration, without PSO support to address grievances.

Answer: I understand how this situation might be compared to the issue you refer to if one doesn’t take in to account the considerable difference in responsibility placed on this position compared to other PSO positions. This clear level of distinction did not then and still does not exist between the present building assigned AEA positions. It is this clear distinction in job responsibilities which sets this situation apart from the concerns that were addressed when we unified the PSO salary schedule.

We have differentiation of pay now within the PSO unit for years of experience and training so the concept of salary differentiation is not new. What is new is that I am asking the group to add level of responsibility to the list to create what could be called a career ladder effect. The creation of this career ladder will give PSO members another option that is not currently available to them. PSO members who wish to take on more responsibility and a longer contract would have the option to do so with out having to have or obtain an administrative license. To me this appears to be a benefit to the members and not something to be resisted.

I agree with your position that we should not be doing something that would create divisiveness within the PSO group and it is my belief that after some consideration of the benefits that a majority of PSO members will recognize and accept the addition of level of responsibility as a justifiable salary factor. If not, I will accept the PSO perspective and move the position in another direction. Support from staff, principals, superintendents and our board is too strong to not move forward with the pilot.

Your reference to Deming not being supportive of “merit pay” is accurate. However, since the concept of merit pay means different things to different people it is important to define what Deming means by merit pay so that we are both talking about the same thing. It is my experience that most definitions of merit pay contain some reference to rankings/rewards being based on results or outcomes of individual effort. Deming was opposed to ranking or rewarding people based on the outcome or result of individual efforts since the system that management puts into place scientifically impacts an individuals ability to produce any product within that system. He did support special rewards, or punishment, for those performances that “statistically” fell outside the norms of the system which is not often recognized by many who report to understand Deming. However he also said that the time and effort to determine these individuals may not justify the expenditure of time and resources. I personally heard him say, when asked how workers should be compensated, that they should be paid based on training, length of service and level of responsibility. This proposal is consistent with my reading and understanding of the Deming principles since we would be using responsibility as the reason to offer a salary increase..

I don’t see that the new position would be in any greater degree of vulnerability if the position was classified as PSO or administrative since they will be considered direct service or field people regardless of their unit classification. Superintendents and principals that have seen the presentation are extremely supportive of the concept which would suggest that once the position is functional that it would be difficult to eliminate with out significant justification regardless of who the Chief Administrator happens to be. They will be front line people, (i.e. assigned full time to buildings) regardless of their classification as PSO or administrative which will keep the number of field people the same or greater than we presently have. They will only become “mid-management” if the PSO does not want them to remain within the PSO unit.

I appreciate your concern, but would ask that you consider this new position as an opportunity for PSO members and support it within your group. Thanks for taking the time to share your concern.

Question: Wouldn't it make more sense to provide assistance to those of us in the direct-service trenches instead of allocating lean money to pseudo-administrative positions?

Answer: We want to keep the Service Facilitator positions in the PSO group so they will be seen as and act just as those in the field/buildings now. Even if we are required to place them within the administrative classification in order to give them the 10% increase, they will still have significant field or building level responsibilities. In fact, the success of the Service Facilitator depends upon that perception.

The Service Facilitator position is designed to allow all field/building level employees to be more effective, thus more efficient and in turn, all employees will have a more manageable work load. That is the whole purpose of the reorganization. Adding more support at the building level is a personal standard I have for the plan, and it will be accomplished or we won't scale up.

Another factor that demonstrates our commitment to adding more employees in the field is the commitment we have made to use Educational Services dollars to support the new structure long term. It is also our intent that any additional funds restored from the state, in addition to an additional allocation from the DE, will be used to maintain and/or restore unfilled positions.

Without this plan we would actually be reducing more field/building level positions.

Question: How is the Service Facilitator who provides direct services to students linked to the staff development process?

Answer: The Service Faciltators will provide information to those responsible for staff development, both internal and external, relative to their own needs as well as the needs of their building(s).

Question: I'm not sure I understand how the new format will affect a school like J.B. Young. There are fewer than 400 students currently in the building with serious needs. How will those needs be met if the building will have less than one FTE?

Answer: All buildings will receive services from the Service Facilitator and Service Provider positions. The amount of service will be based not only on student enrollment but also on other factors like district requests for concentration of services. If a district has requested "additional" service for school, that is not likely to change.

Question: How will the pilot include those tied to IEP responsibilities?

Answer: IEP responsibilities will be accomplished by employees filling the Service Facilitator and/or Service Provider positions.

Question: Will we be hiring new people?

Answer: Our intent is to staff the Service Facilitator and Service Provider pilot with existing employees.

Question: Where will the funding come from?

Answer: There is a possibility that the Iowa Department of Education (DE) will provide additional allocation for the pilot project. Otherwise, the money will come from the Educational Services budget.

Question: How will the new model provide all services to buildings?

Answer: The Service Facilitator will provide some direct services and "facilitate" the delivery of others.

Question: How does my department fit in?

Answer: The changes we are discussing primarily affect employees assigned to buildings on a regular basis. The other departments aren't affected by the restructuring at this time, but may be in the future.

Question: The last time we got a list of our hire dates and seniority with the Agency it was because of cuts in CWA workers. Is this the reason we got it again?

Answer: We sent the seniority list to make certain it is accurate. Employees are constantly leaving and others are being hired, so the list changes.

There are programs that are being eliminated, and others are being considered. Some positions may be eliminated, but we hope that is minimal. We are working closely with CWA in this process.

Question: Do we have a timeline for the positions that will be eliminated?

Answer: Positions are usually eliminated at the end of the school year or June 30. It could be earlier if a program were to be eliminated.

Question: To whom should questions about CWA position elimination be directed?

Answer: Once the Agency decides to eliminate positions, they meet with CWA representatives to discuss timelines and other procedures. Every effort will made to prevent layoffs, but there will probably be some.

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