Sunday, November 26, 2000

Teachers' pay system pondered

Ky. may borrow CPS performance method

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Kentucky has its eye on Cincinnati's new performance-based pay system, which ties teachers' salaries to how well they do their job.

        Merit pay is expected to come up in next February's General Assembly as some state leaders say Kentucky needs to consider alternative ways to pay teachers.

        “We do know that Cincinnati is doing some innovative things, and we're interested in that,” said David Keller, executive director of the Kentucky School Boards Association. “We've got to do something to give us some flexibility in teacher pay.”

        Cincinnati Public Schools has been heralded nationally for linking effectiveness in the classroom with teacher pay in its fledgling pay-for-performance contract.

        Kentucky's school board association board of directors will meet this week to discuss its legislative agenda. While the association is not prepared to propose a specific plan, it does want to offer examples of alternatives, including Cincinnati's system, Mr. Keller said.

        Kentucky legislators strengthened the state's evaluation system earlier this year, but there's been no move to tie that to salaries.

        There's not enough political support, said Rep. Harry Moberly Jr., D-Richmond, a member of the House Education Committee.

        Legislators, however, say they do want to look at other ways to compensate teachers.

        Mr. Moberly wants to reconsider allowing signing bonuses for teachers in shortage areas, such as special education, and teachers who transfer to low-performing districts — ideas shot down during the 2000 General Assembly.

        House Education Committee Chairman Frank Rasche, D-Paducah, said teacher salaries are definitely on the plate, but legislators are pressed for time before the February session. Voters decided earlier this month to hold annual legislative sessions.

        “A lot of us would like to look at some other possibilities,” he said. “But it'll be difficult to lay the groundwork so quickly.”

        Approved by its school board in May, the Cincinnati merit system was also supported by the Cincinnati teachers' union.

        Kentucky teachers, however, won't likely follow suit. The Kentucky Education Association has said it does not support merit pay, calling it too subjective.

        “We're not interested and don't want to address any kind of merit pay,” said Janet Jackson, president of the Northern Kentucky Education Association.

        “Part of the problem is they just don't pay teachers enough. Instead of offering bonuses, they need to raise every teacher's salary to be more competitive with other professions.”


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