Prop 301 monies boost teachers’ salaries

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In 2000 Arizona voters passed a proposition (301) that created a .6 of one percent sales tax increase aimed at raising the average teacher salary in Arizona.

This proposition was worded so a portion of the funds the tax raised would go to fund teachers’ base salaries while 40 percent of these funds would go toward what is called a performance bonus.

The way this money is distributed to teachers is based on bonus structures assembled by the school’s leadership and approved by the governing board.

At Wednesday night’s governing board meeting the Maricopa Unified School District approved the performance plans for all nine schools in the district. “These plans are basically the goals each individual school sets out to accomplish,” said Bonnie Gibson, principal of Maricopa Elementary School.

Teachers are judged on two different criteria, student performance and professional investment.

The student performance section sets goals for student performance, and the personal investment section awards teachers for service above and beyond that required in the classroom. Some examples of personal investment include attending board meetings, creating a web page or mentoring a college level intern.

Teachers are awarded points for meeting goals in each section, and the total number of points they earn determines what percentage of the bonus money they receive.

“These plans were approved by at least 70 percent of the teachers at each school,” Gibson said.

At the end of the year the district divides the total money received from the state among the teachers who qualify. “We make sure the money is divided equally, and it all goes to the teachers,” said Burnie Hibbard, assistant to the superintendent.

Hibbard added that if the district received $20,000 and only five teachers qualified, they would each receive $4,000, but if 10 teachers qualified, the amount going to each teacher would be reduced to $2,000.

Last year the district received roughly $390 per student through the program to distribute to its teachers.

“This is a great program that cannot be cut by state lawmakers since it was passed into law by voters,” said board member Tracy Davis.

File photo