Teach Hard, Earn Extra

Published 3:35 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

CUMBERLAND — Bankers sometimes earn it, so do salespeople or investors. Compensation pay, a one-time check above and beyond annual salary, is seen as a way to reward hard work.

So, why shouldn’t exceptional teachers earn it, too?

Cumberland County Public School teachers have an opportunity to earn some incentive pay this year. And, no, the school is not increasing their request for funding from the Cumberland Board of Supervisors.

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Instead, Cumberland was one of 13 school divisions which applied for and received a Strategic Compensation Grant this year. Governor Bob McDonnell announced the recipients during a press conference earlier this month.

“We were very excited,” says Superintendent of Schools Dr. Amy Griffin, expressing how she felt when she heard Cumberland had been awarded the grant.

The division had implemented a similar incentive program in 2007, which had been funded and supported by the board of supervisors, says Dr. Griffin. But, when state and local funding was cut, the program was dropped.

Now, Cumberland County Public Schools is receiving $107,000 from the state to offer the incentive pay. Teachers can earn either an additional $4,000 or $5,000, depending on what they teach, according to Dr. Griffin.

But, it’s certainly not for everybody. Based on the participation in the past, the school expects to award the incentive pay to roughly 20 teachers.

Interested teachers must apply for the incentive pay and meet five criteria. The teacher must be either pursuing or already possess a master’s degree, be involved in extra duties outside the classroom, such as tutoring or coaching, and not have missed more than five days of work. They also must have received a proficient teacher evaluation at the end of the year.

All incoming students are assessed at the beginning of the year and teachers are required to set growth goals for them to reach, measured by the same type of assessment at the end of the year. Teachers seeking the incentive pay must reach more rigorous growth goals.

The goals are different for every teacher, Dr. Griffin points out. But, the goals are reviewed by the Administrative Council to ensure that they are, indeed, rigorous. The teachers will put together a portfolio at the end of the year, much like for teacher evaluations, and prove that they have met their goals.

“It’s just not doing what you’re expected to do as a teacher. It’s going beyond that,” says Dr. Griffin.

When the incentive pay program was instituted in the past, Dr. Griffin reports that 15 to 20 teachers applied for the increase each year and between nine and 15 teachers were awarded it.

During the press conference earlier this month, Governor McDonnell congratulated the schools receiving the award. “Teachers who stay late, mentor new colleagues, accept assignments in hard-to-staff schools and whose students consistently do well deserve more than our thanks; they deserve to be rewarded.”

He continued, “I congratulate these 13 school divisions for their openness to reform and innovation and their willingness to collaborate with teachers on how best to achieve strategic goals for improving student outcomes.”

Migrant Regional Program

The Cumberland County School Board unanimously approved the certification of the Migrant Regional Program during their regular meeting on August 12.

The federal funding from the program will be used for a portion of the migrant liaison’s salary, as well as materials/supplies needed for the education of migrant students, according to board documents. The funds are also used to provide a summer program for migrant students at their homes if they are not already included in a summer school program.

Policy Manual

And Regulations

The board unanimously approved the announcement of the availability of the division’s Policy Manual and Regulations. The document is available in hardcopy at the school board office, as well as online at the Cumberland County Public Schools Website — www.cucps.k12.va.us — under Administration and School Board Members tabs.