In the expanse of the NC General Assembly’s budget, there is always room for public education salaries, but there were bonuses of a different sort placed in the state budget for the 2016-17 school year that will only benefit educators who teach third-graders and students enrolled in Advanced Placement (AP) and Career Technical Education (CTE) courses.
Educators who teach AP courses will get a bonus of $50 for each student who scores a 3 or above in an AP exam, up to a maximum of $2,000 per year, and CTE instructors who are teaching a course that leads to the attainment of an industry certification or credential are rewarded with the same bonus criteria in addition to $25 bonus amounts for some student credentialing.
However, the largest bonuses are being paid to third grade teachers, who could receive as much as $7,360 for student academic growth. Teachers who taught in third grade last school year and continue to teach there this year whose students’ academic growth scores placed in the Top 25% in the state receive a $3,523 bonus and if those scores also ranked in the Top 25% in the district, they receive another $3,523.
“The Department of Public Instruction sent us the names of teachers who qualified for the 3rd grade bonuses, the Advanced Placement Bonus, and the Career and Technical Education bonus,” said Katie Elliott, Assistant Finance Director. “Our job at the Education Center was to verify that the identified teachers met the other conditions of the bonuses and then to pay the amounts. We are incredibly proud of the hard work all of our teachers do every day in order to ensure that students grow and succeed.”
Within the district, 13 third grade teachers will receive the state bonus and 10 teachers will receive the local bonus. For CTE bonuses, 14 teachers will receive additional funds ranging from $75 to $2,000, an average of $585 per teacher and for AP bonuses, 22 teachers qualify. Their bonuses range from $50 to $1250, with an average of $439 per teacher.
“I would like to express my deep gratitude for the recognition of my third grade's reading growth last year,” said Cherisse Christian, 3rd grade teacher at West Lenoir Elementary. “It wasn’t the bonus, nor the recognition that meant so much to me, but the acknowledgement of the difference I somehow make as a teacher being meaningful and measurable.”
Examples of courses that are taught at the high school level that resulted in some of the largest bonus incentives for teachers are AP English, AP Calculus, Carpentry and Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel.
Bonuses were awarded based on the student data from 2015-2016. The bonus program for AP and CTE teachers is a pilot incentive for two years, whereas the third grade teacher bonuses were written in the budget bill as a pilot program for only this year. All bonuses will be included in the January payroll and for bonus recipients, it will be quite a payoff at the end of the month on pay day.