The longest discussion at Wednesday's negotiations between Bay District School officials and the Association of Bay County Educators (ABCE) was on teacher bonuses. The school board voted Tuesday to double the performance bonuses for teachers at "D" or "F" schools from $2,500 dollars to $5,000 dollars.
"The intention is to keep good teachers measured by students' success and to recruit the same type teacher to the schools where they might be most needed," said BDS Lead Negotiator, Pat Martin.
This year Cedar Grove, Oscar Patterson, Springfield and Oakland Terrace Elementary Schools had "D" grades. All four of them are Title I schools, meaning more than 68% of their students are on Free and Reduced Lunch.
"The students at the ‘D' and ‘F' schools obviously need the best teachers that we can give them and that is what we are trying to do with this bonus," Martin added.
Though some may think an extra $5,00 dollars bonus added to a teachers' paycheck is a lofty incentive, the union doesn't' think it'll do what the district hopes.
"I don't think if you double it, even as the superintendent has suggested, that there is going to be a drove of people coming to those schools. I don't see it," said ABCE Lead Negotiator, Cindy Fowler. "I don't see it, because the difficulties in teaching that clientele you are only going to get the bonus if you have the 65% of learning gains."
Fowler says the criteria are just too high for teachers to meet, proven by the fact only one teacher in the district qualified for the bonus this year. In addition, she says the struggles of reaching those learning gains at the lower scoring schools is nearly impossible with outside factors influencing how a student performs on test day.
Overall, ABCE was pleased with the district's proposal as they said they had a sigh of relief when the contract did not include furlough days and that teachers will get their annual "step" pay increases. The district is still in negotiations with Blue Cross and Blue Shield over insurance costs.