In 2015-16, legislators earmarked $16.1 million to reward teachers who take on leadership roles.
Lawmakers want these ongoing “leadership premiums” to go to select teachers who take on added responsibilities. Yet 19 districts gave a share of the money to at least 90 percent of their teaching staff.
Lawmakers also wanted eligible teachers to receive a significant bonus — writing an $850 minimum into state statute. Eighteen districts and charter schools awarded smaller premiums anyway. The smallest was $75.
A State Department of Education report outlines these problems. Confronted with the findings, House Education Committee Chairwoman Julie VanOrden suggested legislators might need to amend the law yet again.
But at least one school district disputes the SDE findings. And this latest report comes on the heels of an error-filled SDE document outlining the 2014-15 rollout of the program. The department has never corrected the 2014-15 report — and that makes it next to impossible to track trends in a program that receives an ever-increasing sum of taxpayer money.
LEADERSHIP PREMIUMS, EXPLAINED
Passed by the 2014 Legislature, the leadership premium law was designed to address a chronic challenge.
“Many teachers already provide leadership in their schools by performing services such as mentoring new teachers, providing professional development for their peers, and teaching dual credit courses, for little or no additional compensation,” the bill’s statement of purpose reads. “This bill provides schools with the resources to recognize and reward those teachers who take on these additional responsibilities.”
The idea for the leadership premiums came from Gov. Butch Otter’s K-12 task force — and the 20 recommendations the group approved in 2013. As with many of the task force’s ideas, this one received bipartisan backing at the Statehouse. The bill passed the House on a 62-6 vote, and passed the Senate unanimously.