Performance pay update
Top teachers are poised to get bonuses of around $2,000 or more, following the Senate's passage Wednesday of a new merit pay plan (SB 1226) to replace the controversial program adopted last year under Jeb Bush. The Senate unanimously approved the Merit Award Program, which replaces the contentious Special Teachers are Rewarded (STAR) program. (For more details, click here.) The House is expected to pass the $147.5-million measure today. It would then go to the governor, who supports the merit pay so much, he wants to double the state money available next year — to $295-million. Not everyone was thrilled with the bill. "I don't see how you can go into a school and determine which teachers would benefit from a school's grade improving," said Sen. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami. "I think we should treat our teachers the same. This is something that is going to cause a lot of problems in our schools even though it is a step in the right direction." But all agreed in the end that the proposal is better than what the state had before. Sponsor Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, quoted U.S. Sen. Everett Dirksen to close the debate: "When everyone is equally dissatisfied justice has been done." "I think we've done better than that," Gaetz said. "It gives us a way forward, a way forward which we can amend and improve over time."
- Shannon Colavecchio-Van Sickler