Natchez school board members don’t like teacher bonuses

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 7, 2000

Despite a national teachers’ union’s decision not to stand in the way of efforts toward merit pay, some Natchez-Adams School Board members are not sure the idea is sound.

&uot;I don’t like merit pay or bonus pay,&uot; said board President Kenneth Taylor.

On Wednesday, National Education Association delegates voted not to stand in the way of local districts’ giving performance-based bonuses to teachers.

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Bur Taylor said that under a bonus system, one principal could decide who should get bonuses and more vocal teachers may unfairly benefit.

&uot;You may have a quiet teacher over here that’s not getting the compensation they should be getting,&uot; Taylor said. &uot;I don’t like (merit pay) because it will lead to dissension among faculty,&uot; he said.

Teacher salaries should be based on education and years of experience, he said.

Board member Terry Estes also has questions about how a merit-pay system would work.

Estes said he is not sure if districts can measure teacher performance accurately with all the different levels of children in the district.

For example, he wondered how a school district can assess the performance of teachers who teach special education children.

&uot;I think merit pay is good on the surface (level) but its not going to be fair to everybody,&uot; Estes said.

In Louisiana, Concordia Parish School Board members said Thursday they would have to be sure a merit-based bonus system would be unbiased and well-planned before they would approve it.

&uot;There would have to be a plan in place for what criteria would be used to determine who gets the bonuses,&uot;&160;said board President Mike Grantham.

&uot;I’m not dead set against it – if we had to money to do it. But there would have to be a true way to gauge (teachers’) performance, and I’m not sure what that would be.&uot;

Instead, Grantham said he would rather see teachers and other district employees get raises across the board rather than receive performance-based bonuses. &uot;That way,&uot; he said, &uot;everyone would get something.&uot;

&uot;Only if it’s done fairly would I&160;approve it,&uot; said board member Martha Rabb.

Fellow member Mary Campbell agreed and added she would like see such a system give bonuses not just to teachers, but to other district employees as well.

&uot;I&160;have mixed feelings, because such a system has its good points and bad points,&uot; said member Don Joseph.

&uot;It would reward good teachers, but favoritism is bound to creep into it, … and I&160;was a teacher long enough (15 years) to know that it could turn out that way. So if it went to a vote now, I’d probably vote against it.&uot;

But board member Darrell Crofford said he would support giving such bonuses – which have not been discussed by the board – if the district had the money to spare.

&uot;Good teachers, those that go the extra mile, need to be rewarded,&uot; Crofford said.

Nita McCann contributed to this report.