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Teachers, staff get bonuses as 2 Columbus schools improve

Teachers and staff at two northern Mississippi schools are receiving more than $370,000 in bonuses because their schools have improved under a state grading system.

Columbus Municipal School District trustees voted in 2018 to adopt a Teacher Incentive Pay Plan to provide bonuses for faculty and staff members of improving and high-performing schools. The plan also includes bonus incentives for math and science teachers.

The first checks arrived this month, and the Commercial Dispatch reported that a celebration was held Tuesday at an elementary school.

Superintendent Cherie Labat credited the trustees for showing employees how much their achievements are valued.

“We think that events like this are very significant to continue to enhance the culture,” Labat said.

Stokes-Beard Elementary School and Columbus High School both improved this year in accountability ratings from Mississippi Department of Education. Faculty and staff members at the two schools received a combined $181,354.

The district’s 54 math and science teachers, 15 of whom are new hires, received $189,000 total.

Unlike state incentives, the teacher incentive pay plan provides a bonus for each faculty and staff member, including cafeteria workers and custodians.

“You moved the school,” board president Jason Spears told employees Tuesday. “Grades went up, and we want anyone who has any interaction with the child during the school day to be rewarded for it, and that’s why everyone’s a part of this program.”

Mississippi rates public school districts, as well as individual campuses, on a letter-grade scale, ranging from A to F. Grades are based on a number of factors, mainly student performance on end-of-year benchmark exams.

The Columbus district’s incentive program rewards faculty and staff at campuses that improve letter grades. At schools that increase from an F to a D, certified staff receive $500, teacher assistants receive $250 and support staff receive $50. Incentive amounts increase gradually for each letter grade, up to $2,000 for certified faculty at A-rated campuses.

The Columbus district has maintained a D overall rating for the last two years. However, during the 2018-19 school year, Columbus High improved from a C to a B, and Stokes-Beard jumped from an F to a B.


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