tampabay.com

Teachers give thumbs down on bonus plan

By BARBARA BEHRENDT
Published February 9, 2007


Citrus County teachers have voted down the controversial bonus plan crafted under a legislative mandate. In tallies completed on Thursday, 75 percent of the district's teachers said no to the STAR (Special Teachers are Rewarded) program.

"Teachers felt it was very important that they sent a message to the Legislature that this is unacceptable. This is not in the best interest of children," said Deborah Platt, president of the Citrus County Education Association.

Under the proposal, 25 percent of the district's teachers could earn pay bonuses based on the learning gains of their students.

But some teachers aren't eligible and other staff members, such as teacher aides, other support workers and even bus drivers who are part of the educational team, are not eligible. "It's divisive and it's pitting teacher against teacher," Platt said.

Since the plan is mandated, the School Board must now decide whether to simply impose it and collect state money to implement it or to reject it.

If they reject it, they will still have to come up with more than $800,000 in local money to provide bonuses and come up with their own plan by a March 1 implementation deadline.

The board is set to discuss that decision Feb. 27.

"This basically was a vote against the Legislature, the DOE and the STAR plan," Platt said. "This is not a vote against the district or the Citrus County School Board."