I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Teacher Merit Pay, Part III—908 Escambia Teachers to Each Receive $2,042.00

Details of the Escambia County School District’s 2007-2008 Merit Pay Bonus payouts have been intricately worked out and a fairly clear picture of what will transpire in the next few weeks is taking shape. As I have stated on numerous occasions, I am a staunch supporter of Merit Pay for teachers. I am proud that Escambia County was one of only 9 (out of 67) counties that were able to develop, negotiate, and deliver a state funded merit award plan for the 2007-2008 school year. The superintendent and his staff worked with the union and the school board to make this happen. The result? In the midst of this current economic downturn we are in, a lot of great employees will soon be receiving bonus checks.

Here’s the way the plan is going to be implemented, as I currently understand it:

1. Later today or tomorrow, an email will go out from the district offices to the personnel who were eligible to qualify for a merit bonus payment for the 2007-2008 school year. The email will contain a link to a site that will allow each eligible employee to view whether or not they have been selected to receive a merit bonus. (Each employee will only be able to check their own personal status, not anyone else’s)

2. Target check stub mailing date will be between September 15th and October 1st, with bonus money distributed with regular pay at the end of the month via direct deposit.

3. Bonus amount will be roughly $2,050.00, after deduction for FICA. All bonus recipients will be receiving the same amount. (This amount equates to 5% of the average district teacher salary of just a little over $40,000.00)

Some interesting statistics are worthy of mention here:

The initial pool of potential qualified employees was roughly 3,200. Of this number, 500 personnel voluntarily “opted-out” of consideration. (I don’t understand the logic of someone voluntarily opting out of a merit bonus plan-- but hey, to each his own, right?) A large number of other employees were subsequently deemed to be not eligible for a variety of different reasons, leaving the final pool of eligible instructional personnel at roughly 1,850. Of this final number, the district will be awarding 908 teachers with bonuses---nearly 50% of those eligible! I think this statistic is powerful. I hope next year we can duplicate this percentage. Perhaps the 500 personnel who opted out last year could opt out again this year, leaving a smaller pool of eligible employees. We’ll have to wait and see how that works out.

At the district level, 114 personnel were initially eligible, 14 voluntarily “opted out”, and 21 others failed to subsequently meet the requirements. Of the initial 114 district personnel, only about 79 were qualified at the end of the process. The final number of district level personnel who will be receiving a merit award from this final pool of 79 is 36.

The district will be paying out a total of $2,094,929.00 in bonuses to the teachers and district level personnel who earned these bonuses, with $60,505.00 going to our area charter schools for distribution to their employees.

My congratulations go out to all those hard working employees who earned these bonuses.


Anonymous said...

So, are those who didn't receive the merit pay not hard working, or are somehow less deserving?

I logged over 2100 additional hours last year at my school, have spent over $2000 each year (for supplies and materials) and am proud of what I accomplish each year.

What do you think the merit pay plan will do for the morale of those like me who've put in so much and not been compensated or recognized for it?

Trust me when I tell you that it's not for the money. It's definitely not for the fame of recognition.

IT'S FOR THE STUDENTS! They will be the ones serving your food in the drive thru. They will be the ones at the pharmacy filling your prescription. They will be the ones who notice what I (and many more like me) do for them on a daily basis.

Hold us accountable, but don't drive a money wedge into the system to divide us. Transparency? Where is the list with each person's score and what they need to improve? Why not publicize it as were the administration's salaries? It's public money that should've been used more wisely.

Be proud of those teachers who accomplish so much with so little. Be proud of the fact that this district, despite a poor organizational structure, is turning out quality individuals who one day will lead. Be proud of each teacher who comes to school each day and gives more than they're paid to do. Be proud of those support personnel who are there with them all day.

Jeff Bergosh said...

Thanks for the post. I am proud of the fact that such a high percentage of those eligible employees received a bonus. (near 50%)

I have great respect for teachers, and I do not believe that the Merit Pay concept will drive a money wedge between teachers. As for transparency, you are absolutely right about that. Every teacher who received an award is known, and this list is a public record. Someone (perhaps someone who did not get the award) will request it via a public records request through the district and publish it. I would not count on the district to publish the list, though; I believe they are not wanting to shine a spotlight on this issue because, as you mention, some teachers may feel as though they were slighted for not receiving the award. That is a shame. I look at this differently--I want everyone to know that we worked hard to come up with a plan that was fair, balanced, and allowed for every teacher to compete on an equal playing field for an award. I want to find a way to let everyone know that we are putting 2.1 Million extra dollars into this economy, and we are doing it fairly. I'm considering writing a viewpoint article in the PNJ about this subject, because I'm proud of the districts effort to reward great employees.
I've spoken to several teachers, one of whom has checked the site and wll be awarded a bonus. This instructor is a very hard worker, 10 year veteran, and is underpaid. (Under 38K yr.) I'm happy this individual is receiving the bonus--it is well deserved. Another I spoke with is a part-time instructor, working at a north county elementary. She was not eligible, but she was happy for those that were and were awarded. (she's got the right attitude, in my opinion)

I've also heard a vicious rumor that many school locations had a "wink and nod" agreement among their instructional personnel to all "opt out" of the plan. Looks to me like not everyone got that memo, though. and I'm glad about that. I do feel bad about the 500 who did, in fact, "voluntarily" opt out. I believe those folks made an error in judgement. Perhaps they'll opt out next year as well, leaving more in the pool so that we can pay a higher percentage of employees? We'll have to see how that shakes out.

Remember, Andy Ford and the FEA, as well as Gail Husbands and the EEA have endorsed this Merit Award Plan. I've spoken to numerous State Legislators recently, and I feel that there is still considerable support for this program at the State level, so for the short term I don't believe that Merit Pay in Florida is going away. Every eligible teacher should have a shot at these bonuses, that's my opinion.

my life said...

I got the news Friday afternoon that I got the merit pay. It is nice to have it after 31 years in the district because most pay increases go to beginning teachers. It is sad that a teacher can retire after 30 years at 47,500, which is what my retirement is based upon. My son and daughter got jobs out of college that paid more than that. It makes life a little easier.