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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Merit pay dies in Hernando



BROOKSVILLE -- Hernando County caught a lucky break this week: the state didn't like its application for a merit-pay plan for teachers.

And with a few quick votes Wednesday, a relieved district and teachers' union dropped the Merit Award Program like a hot potato.

"Both groups voted unanimously not to submit the corrections to the Department of Education to revise the plan, so we’re not going to have that as part of our contract this year," said Barbara Kidder, director of labor relations and professional standards. "MAP is dead."

Under the state plan, up to 25 percent of district teachers would have received a state-funded salary bonus based on student testing and an administrative evaluation.

But Hernando officials reckoned the plan would have cost the district $400,000 or more in local funds to implement, and the Hernando Classroom Teachers' Association union worried that would come out of teacher salaries.

In other words, everyone -- including all five School Board members and the union leadership -- hated it. If not for the complication of an earlier union vote to accept the plan, and a much-regretted board vote to move forward, it never would have gotten this far.

They're not alone. Around two-thirds of Florida's 67 counties, including Pasco and Pinellas, have rejected the plan, according to the Florida School Labor Relations Service.

So when the district received word Monday that its plan had fallen short and needed revisions, there were lots of smiles.

Even Laurie Pellito, the district staffer who labored to pull the district's submission together, was pleased.

"I want to believe that it's finished," she added. "But I haven't started shredding yet."

Pellito plans to keep that big MAP file in a safe place, near her paperwork for Special Teachers Are Rewarded, the state's last attempt at merit pay. When the next plan comes, she'll be ready.

-- Tom Marshall, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 9:28am]


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