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Four principals to get bonus pay

August 03, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Four Washington County elementary school principals will be paid an additional $1,500 or $2,000 each for leading so-called "challenge schools" in the coming school year, Board of Education President Edward Forrest and Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

The additional pay will reward principals for taking difficult job assignments and will make the principal positions at the four elementary schools - Bester, Salem Avenue, Winter Street and Eastern - more attractive, they said.

The four elementary schools were designated challenge schools because each has characteristics that make it a harder assignment for a principal, Morgan said. The factors taken into account included the number of students, the percentage of students receiving free or reduced school meals, the number of new teachers and students coming into the schools and students' scores on standardized tests.

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"There's no question it's a more difficult assignment," Morgan said, adding that principals and teachers at those schools work longer days than many of their peers at other schools.

Bester, Eastern and Winter Street are designated by the state as challenge schools, which means some teachers at those schools are paid an extra $2,000 year by the state, schools Director of Human Resources Donald Francis said.

State officials consider students' scores on standardized tests and teacher turnover to decide which schools are state challenge schools, Morgan said.

Morgan said she didn't think it was fair that some of the teachers at those schools were receiving extra pay while the principals were not.

Forrest said the School Board endorsed the idea of paying the principals a bonus when Morgan brought it to them during a closed-door meeting. Forrest said the board did not have to vote on the extra pay because it is an administrative matter.

The principals at Bester, Salem Avenue and Winter Street will each receive $1,500 above their regular salaries. The principal at Eastern Elementary School will receive a $2,000 bonus, Francis said.

The base salaries for the principals at those four schools ranges from $71,329 to $82,259, Francis said.

The bonus pay for the Eastern principal is higher than for the other schools because Eastern is the county's largest elementary school, Forrest said.

Bester Principal Drenna Reineck said the extra pay is not the reason why she applied to stay at Bester.

"For me, it was a commitment to the school," said Reineck, who has been at Bester for four years.

But she said the bonus pay "is nice because it recognizes that some schools are special, more challenging."

"There are the same issues at all schools, but you have to deal with them more frequently at some schools," Reineck said.

The bonus pay is not part of the four principals' regular salaries, so the bonuses do not have to be given every year, Francis said.

Morgan said the additional pay for the principals is another step in her effort to change the way pay levels are determined throughout the school system.

"We're starting down the road to differentiated pay, or variable pay," Morgan said. "If anything, there's going to be more of this, not less."

Earlier this summer, Morgan announced that future pay raises for her and the top 13 school system administrators, including the deputy superintendent and department heads, will depend on measurable results such as student improvement.

Morgan hopes that eventually pay for school system employees from teachers on up will vary based on specific job assignment and results.

"There's no one size fits all ... for compensation," Morgan said.

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