Friday, November 16, 2012

Teachers to receive $38M in bonuses

Blaine County School Districtís share to be nearly $978K

Express Staff Writer

Regardless of the defeat of education reforms by Idaho voters in the Nov. 6 general election, school teachers in Idaho will soon be receiving $38 million in “pay-for-performance" bonuses.

Pay-for-performance, authorized by the Idaho Legislature in 2011 and addressed in the election as Proposition 2, was defeated on Nov. 6 by a margin of 58-42 percent.

Nonetheless, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced Tuesday that pay-for-performance bonuses will be distributed to school districts and charter schools throughout Idaho on Thursday, Nov. 15. In a press release, Luna stated that the decision to distribute the funds was based on a written opinion from the Idaho Attorney General’s Office.

In that opinion, the Attorney General’s Office determined that the bonuses were earned during the 2011-2012 school year and that the state was legally required to disburse the money.

Luna stated that 80 percent of Idaho’s public school teachers will receive bonuses, with the average bonus being about $2,000. According to a disbursement chart available at the Idaho State Department of Education website, the bonuses will also be applied to administrators and other certified staff such as social workers at all schools that met criteria for pay-for-performance.

The Blaine County School District’s share will be $967,876.

District Superintendent Lonnie Barber said at a Tuesday evening school board meeting that the district is required to disperse the funds by Dec. 15.

All eight of the district’s schools qualified for the bonuses. However, based on the state criteria of using Idaho Standards Achievement Test results and individual student growth rates in determining bonus amounts, staff members at three schools will receive lesser bonuses, or what is referred to as “quarter shares.”

In addition to the state criteria for bonus qualification, the Department of Education factored in local school district objectives for measuring student achievement.

The Blaine County School District measurements factored into the bonus formula included results on the Standardized Testing and Reporting Program, typically referred to as STAR, for grades 4-8. For grades K-3, the school district factored in results from Idaho Reading Indicator tests.

For high school students, the district only considered Idaho Standards Achievement Test results for measuring student performance.

Blaine County schools not qualifying for full shares were Bellevue Elementary School, Carey School and Woodside Elementary School.

Department of Education Communications Director Melissa McGrath said Wednesday that the pay-for-performance calculations cannot be equated to the department’s new five-star school rating system because different measurements were used with the two systems.

Under the new rating system, Wood River High School, which is receiving a full share in the pay-for-performance disbursement, received only three of a maximum five stars while Carey School received a higher score of four stars.

McGrath said achievement test results showed the Carey School recorded individual student growth, but at a lower rate than schools qualifying for a full share.

“It’s just that other schools grew more than they did,” McGrath said.


Reforms undone

Barber also addressed the ramifications of the defeat of other education reforms, known as Propositions 1 and 3 at Tuesday’s school board meeting.

Other than the clarification on pay-for-performance, he said a series of emails from the state Department of Education have not been helpful.

“They’ve just made things as clear as mud,” Barber said.

He said Proposition 3, which addressed increased technology to be provided to schools at state expense, will have “little effect” on the school district because the district already has funding and is aggressively pursuing technology for teaching.

Proposition 1, which restricted school district negotiations with teachers’ unions to just salary and benefits, will be addressed when the district negotiates with teachers next spring.

Prior to 2011, when legislation was passed addressing contract negotiations, unions were allowed to negotiate other item such as class size, grievance and layoff procedures and performance evaluation processes.

“We’ll sit down and say ‘how do we get this going again,’” Barber said.

Overall, Barber said, the election results show to him that voters were not satisfied with the way the legislation reforms were implemented.

“I think the message the state of Idaho is getting from the public is ‘Yes, we like broccoli, but we don’t like it shoved down our throats,’” Barber said.

“The legislature is going to be in session in two months,” he said. “This is not going to go away. I expect some of this will come back in a different form.

“I think the legislature got the message that they should take into account the opinions of the citizens.”


Teacher bonuses

Teachers, other certified staff and administrators at Blaine County Schools will receive the following bonus disbursements under the State Department of Education’s “pay-for-performance” plan:

Wood River High School and Silver Creek High School, grouped together in the disbursement plan, will receive a total of $339,136.

Wood River Middle School: $212,304.

Hailey Elementary School: $165,348.

Hemingway Elementary School: $142,053.

Bellevue Elementary School: $70,255.

Woodside Elementary School: $38,778.

Carey School: data not available.

Department of Education Communications Director Melissa McGrath explained Wednesday that the amount going to Carey School had not yet been calculated because the department had not received all the data needed from the Blaine County School District.

Terry Smith:

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