Budget cuts may bury differential pay for teachers
Back in September, we told you that state Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, then chair of the Senate education committee, was talking to Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith about an idea to put a differential pay component into the state's existing merit pay programs. In other words, teachers who earn merit pay through MAP, or the bonus plan for national board-certified teachers, or through school recognition money, might get a bigger share of the pie if they're getting gains out of high-poverty students.
Alas, the idea appears stalled. Department of Education spokesman Tom Butler told the Gradebook that DOE is still talking with Gov. Charlie Crist's office about the possibility of pursuing the idea during the session. But budget cuts may get in the way.
"Something like this is going to be perceived as a new program" whether it requires new money or not, Butler said. He said DOE doesn't think the Legislature will have time to take it up, and "we're focusing our legislative efforts on other areas."
Crist spokesman Sterling Ivey said the governor's office was still planning for the session and had not made any final decisions about several initiatives, including the differential pay idea. But, "We are mindful of the current economic challenges and may limit our focus to existing programs or those programs that provide a measurable cost savings."
Ron Matus, State Education Reporter