Teacher merit plan gets warm reception in Senate Finance

An Assembly bill designed to create a merit system to reward teachers for outstanding work received a warm reception in the Senate Finance Committee on Friday.

AB461 provides $10 million for grants to school districts that adopt a system providing performance pay and enhanced compensation for teachers.

Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, said the idea is to provide school districts flexibility in picking programs that work for them. How to use the money would be worked out between school officials and the teachers' union in each school district.

The list includes skills-based pay enhancements, a career ladder for superior teachers, mentoring programs and bonuses.

Assembly Education Chairwoman Bonnie Parnell, D-Carson City, said the bill would help keep the best teachers in the classroom.

"We all recognize in this building we are losing teachers at a very fast rate," she said. "School districts differ, really, in how best to retain their teachers and this bill looks at an assortment of ways to offer those incentives."

Sen. Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas, said she was "very excited" about the proposal.

"These are really cool ideas," said Sen. Bob Beers, R-Las Vegas.

The only major stumbling block for AB461 is the cost of the plan, but Giunchigliani said that's unavoidable.

"It does cost money if we want to tie job duties to pay," she said.

Beers suggested adding language to ensure the bill didn't limit possible uses of the money, "because somebody could come up with something that's novel and new."

Giunchigliani said the list of possible uses was never designed to be restrictive.

The committee took no action on AB461.


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