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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Still no alternative plan to Florida's Best and Brightest bonus from state



Florida education commissioner Pam Stewart has yet to present her ideas to replace the state's controversial teacher bonus plan that's based in part on educators' college entry exams, well after she told the State Board of Education she'd give them a plan.

Stewart told the board at its September meeting that she was working on details for a teacher retention and recruitment plan that might serve as an alternative to the Best and Brightest program that lawmakers narrowly renewed in the spring. Board members had called for "corrections" to the program in August, and Stewart said she'd have information for them by October.

The board has held two meetings since then, without any report back from Stewart. The Department of Education communication department told the Gradebook that the commissioner isn't ready yet, and referred back to the board's legislative budget request for any information that's available.

In the LBR, the board called for $43 million to support bonuses "for new teachers who show great potential and for veteran teachers who have demonstrated the highest student academic growth among their peers." The concept, according to the document, would address shortages in STEM fields and support top teacher candidates as well as public schools "with the highest needs."

House leaders have in the past signaled their strong support for the existing program, which remains an annual budget item rather than a part of law. There's been much turnover in the Legislature, though, as well as an acknowledgement that, in the House at least, not all ideas will be coming from the top down.

The State Board also will have a new member, with vice chairman John Padget's term expiring in December. Stewart will have to navigate these new waters as she presents her thoughts, perhaps at the board's next meeting in January. Stay tuned.

[Last modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2016 9:56am]


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