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Some Idaho teachers upset with performance bonuses

Published On: Nov 02 2012 08:47:31 PM CDT
job talent shortages - teachers


3. Teachers


Idaho teachers can earn thousands in bonuses through the new pay for performance program as part of the Students Come First law. Some Coeur d'Alene teachers however call it a slap in the face.

Lake City High School teacher Sandy Midgley will probably get around a $2,000 bonus this year and that's not sitting well with her. She says some teachers will get up to $4,000, depending on what school they are at, while others will get nothing at all.

"It's damaging to teacher relationships around the school district. It's a slap in the face to hard working people," she claimed.

This year's pay for performance was based on a standardized test taken in third through tenth grade and student growth.

"I support rewarding the best teachers. I wish there was a mechanism to do that. Giving me a $2,000 bonus when I teach senior government, that's not the mechanism," Midgley said.

The preliminary numbers have been released to teachers but not publicly as the state Department of Education is still finalizing the numbers and expects to be done with that November 9.  The estimate is eight out of ten Idaho teachers will receive a bonus on average of $2,000.

"Not every teacher is going to earn a bonus but we do thinks it's great thing that 80-percent of our teachers are going to earn a bonus through the plan," Melissa McGrath with the Idaho Department of Education said.

Next year the plan is to expand it to include leadership and hard to fill positions to make it more comprehensive. That's why local school districts can add in criteria too. 

But before looking to next year, this law is on the ballot next week. In an e-mail, state school superintendent Tom Luna said the money can be distributed on November 15 even if voters strike it down because "the law will not officially be repealed until November 21."

"A question remains as [to] what school districts do with that money if the law is repealed and they haven't paid their payroll yet," McGrath said.

But for some teachers, the bottom line is that this system is unfair and doesn't actually measure how hard they work in the classroom.