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Dade Teachers To Get Merit Pay, State Says

MIAMI (CBS4)- Some of Miami-Dade's best teachers could find something extra in their paychecks by September. That's because the school district's merit pay plan was given the green light by state education officials.

The OK will make Dade the first Florida school system to use federal Race to the Top funds for performance pay.

Miami-Dade intends to dole out $14 million in stipends to high-performing teachers by September, the Miami Herald reported.

"We're very honored to be the first in the state and among the first in the nation to negotiate a new system of compensation that rewards our very best teachers and leaders," Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Tuesday.

Broward, meanwhile, has been unable to reach an agreement with its teachers' union on teacher performance pay — and could lose out on $30 million in federal funds over the next three years.

"That's a lot of money for us to lose," Broward Superintendent Jim Notter said last week.

Under a new state law, all Florida school districts must adopt performance pay plans by 2014.

Some districts, however, are using funds from the Race to the Top program to launch performance pay before then.

Florida won $700 million from Race to the Top, a national competition for federal education dollars. Individual school districts can spend their share of the money on performance pay and technology, among other items.

Districts had until June 1 to submit a plan for spending the money to the state Department of Education.

Broward could receive up to $37 million. Dade's share exceeds $70 million.

Broward has already spent $7 million on technology. For the remaining $30 million, the Broward district submitted a performance pay plan to the state, district officials said. But the Broward Teachers Union did not sign off on it, saying it gives too much money to administrators and consultants.

BTU President Pat Santeramo said the district has not negotiated the plan with the district.

"The race for the top money calls for collaboration," he said. "And collaboration is non-existent in this district."

The district hopes its application will get approved without the BTU signature. Joanne Harrison, deputy superintendent for educational programs and student support, said as of Tuesday the district had not heard anything back from the state.

In Miami-Dade, the school district and the United Teachers of Dade negotiated a merit pay plan that will enable top teachers to earn one-time stipends of up to $25,000. The agreement is the first of its kind in the state.

Teachers will be eligible for four types of awards based on their students' Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test scores.

Some of the awards will go to schools that maintain an A grade or boost their FCAT scores. At those schools, all of the teachers in the building will get a share of the money. Assistant Superintendent for Human Relations Enid Weisman anticipates 75 percent of schools will earn school wide awards — and teachers at those schools will take home up to $500.

Teams of teachers will be also recognized. For example, if a specific school makes strong gains in reading, all of the English, social studies and reading teachers in the building will get up to $500. The same will hold true for math and science teachers in schools that improve on the math portion of the FCAT.

In addition, individual teachers who see 90 percent of their students improve will earn up to $500.

The largest awards will go to the top 20 teachers whose students have the biggest increase in FCAT scores. The teachers will represent each of the school district's six regions, one of which is made up entirely of struggling schools.

Those stipends will range from $4,000 to $25,000 — and will enable teachers to make more than $100,000 in a single year, according to the Herald.

Carvalho has also received approval from the state to pursue a merit pay plan for principals, he said.

The details of the plan have not yet been hammered out.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report)


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