District 203 proposing behavior analyst, new nursing credential to career advancement initiative  

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Two new certification and professional development opportunities could be added to Naperville School District 203’s Career 203 program for teachers and other faculty members in the upcoming school year, based on a recently unveiled proposal.

Shelly Nelson, director of human resources and Career 203, went before the board of education at a meeting on Monday, March 4, and discussed the newest certification opportunities, which were derived at an assessment committee meeting in February.

The Career 203 assessment committee is comprised of a dozen voting members who make recommendations on new career advancement offerings within the district to the decision-making board of education.

The local teachers union, the Naperville Unit Education Association, appoints six voting members, while District 203 administrators comprise the other six participants. Structurally, Career 203 has assorted bricks, which give teachers and faculty points that can be used for added compensation.

Behavioral analysts and school nurses 

One of two new brick proposals in the 2024-25 school year is an opportunity to become a board-certified behavior analyst. District 203 educators attaining this achievement can earn an additional $1,500 while certification is held and maintained.

“With the increase in problem behavior, having staff specially trained in behavior analytics is good for our students, our educators and the district,” Nelson said of the rationale behind this new career advancement brick proposal.

The second new brick proposal applies to existing certified school nurses who could earn added certification from the National Board of Certification of School Nurses. CSNs have the opportunity to receive an additional $500 annually once the base certification requirements from the NBCSN are achieved and subsequently maintained.

“The district has seen an increase in student medical conditions, especially arising in life-threatening conditions, that require support at school,” Nelson said. “Having CSNs who exercise their knowledge and expertise in school-focused nursing benefits those students, their families and the district.”

Career advancement initiative nearing a 15-year milestone 

Career 203, created out of an agreement with the NUEA, has been a part of District 203 for nearly a decade and a half.

“Think of Career 203 as a learn-to-earn compensation plan,” Nelson said. “During negotiations in 2010, the district and the NUEA agreed to develop a professional growth model for educator compensation that would replace the far more common graduate credit-based salary schedule model.”

Since its initial implementation, Career 203 has been tweaked in a number of ways with new career advancement opportunities that yield participants points and, subsequently, additional pay. Nelson described Career 203’s structure as “dynamic.”

“It is meant to evolve with the needs of our students, evolve with the initiatives of the district and adapt, based on an educator’s career goals,” she said.

Nelson said a range of teachers and faculty take part in Career 203, with some being more in the emerging camp who are working toward a master’s degree at an accredited university or college. Others are career educators who are established in the profession, but are taking new courses to satisfy changing needs in the classroom.

Speaking to overall participation in the program, Nelson said, “It varies a lot from year to year, depending on the initiatives the district puts out for our educators. In any given year, we have approximately 400 participants, which would be a little over a quarter of the staff.”

The board of education could vote on the proposed Career 203 changes at its next meeting on Monday, March 18.

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