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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Will revenue argument prevent academic coaching cuts?

Lerner The 61 International Baccalaureate teachers at St. Petersburg High and Palm Harbor University High are making $440,000 extra this year in salary supplements and benefits - money that is under the knife as the district looks for ways to slash $26 million. But the two programs generated $1.1 million for the district this year, thanks to a state funding formula that gives districts extra money for each IB test passed and IB diploma granted.

Should that make a difference in whether the supplements one cut?

At least one school board member, after hearing the figures at a workshop today, said she's leaning towards a yes. (See the figures for yourself here.)

"That does put it in a different light," Linda Lerner, who had earlier supported the cut, told The Gradebook. "They're generating the money. They're have a high succcess rate. It becomes a different issue."

The district announced last week that it was cutting the academic coaching supplements - equal to 14 percent of a teacher's base salary - for the teachers at four marquee magnet programs - the two IB programs, as well as Lakewood's CAT and Gibbs' PCCA. The proposed cut is drawing strong resistance from magnet teachers and their students, but also fueling hard feelings among other teachers.

Discussion about the cuts flared at this morning's workshop, and dominated a portion of the meeting that had been dedicated to all kinds of potential budget cuts.

According to district data, the expenses for the two IB programs (excluding the supplements, but including things like exam costs and instructional materials) total $339,000 this year. State law says 80 percent of the IB-generated revenue must go back to the schools, while 20 percent goes to the district. It also spells out allowable uses of the money. (See here.)

It remains to be seen how much weight the revenue argument will carry as the issue continues to fester. Board chair Janet Clark said after this morning's discussion that she was not swayed, and continued to support the cut.

"Different levels of ESE kids get different levels of funding (but) their teachers don't get more money," said Clark, a former ESE teacher. "It bothers me when you start saying one group of teachers is doing more than another group."

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:02am]


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