Almost 13% of Greenwood public school teachers receive merit bonus

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 234 views 

Greenwood Public Schools had the highest percentage of teachers among the four largest schools in the Fort Smith metro to receive bonuses from the Merit Teacher Incentive Fund Program that is part of the LEARNS Act.

Gov. Sarah Sanders and Arkansas Secretary of Education Jacob Oliva recently announced that 3,000 Arkansas teachers across will be recipients of the Merit Teacher Incentive Fund Program, giving up to $10,000 in bonuses. The bonus program was established through the LEARNS Act and awards educators with bonuses ranging from $1,500 to $10,000. The bonuses will be made available for distribution by the end of the month, a news release said.

According to the Arkansas Learns website, 12.7% of the teachers in Greenwood School District will receive bonuses with an average bonus of $3,181. In the three other of the largest school districts in the Fort Smith metro area, 8.6% of the Alma School District will receive bonuses averaging $3,295; 7.6% of Van Buren School District teachers will receive bonuses averaging $4,080 and 3.5% of Fort Smith Public Schools teachers will receive bonuses averaging $3,649.

Greenwood had 36 qualifying teachers with bonuses ranging from $5,500 to $1,500 for a district total of $114,500. Van Buren had 47 qualifying teachers with bonuses ranging from $10,000 to $1,500 for a district total of $179,500. Fort Smith had 37 qualifying teachers with bonuses ranging from $8,500 to $1,500 for a district total of $135,000.

Alma School District Superintendent Dr. Bryan Duffie is out of the office this week, and information on district teachers receiving bonuses was not available, said Jenna Oglivie, communications specialist for the district.

Teachers who qualified for the bonuses demonstrated outstanding growth in student performance, served as a mentor to aspiring teachers who participated in yearlong residencies, and/or taught in a subject, geographical, or designation area experiencing a critical teacher shortage, a news release said.

To identify recipients, the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education used data collected through the Statewide Information System, the Educator Effectiveness System, the Arkansas Educator Licensure System, and student state assessment data. According to the Learns website, teachers will receive bonuses if:
• They have a three year (2021, 2022, and 2023) average student growth score across all subjects in the top 5% of all teachers statewide;
• They hold an Arkansas teaching license;
• They have an annual rating of effective or highly effective in the Educator Effectiveness System;
• Or they have a three-year (2021, 2022, and 2023) average student growth score in the same tested subject area (ELA, Math, Sci) that is in the top 25% of all teachers in that subject area statewide.

In an email to all district employees, Dr. Chris Davis, FSPS assistant superintendent of human resources and campus support classroom, said a classroom teacher, library media specialist, or school counselor would not appear on the merit bonus list for the district if they did not meet an eligibility category; they are unlicensed; they did not have an annual rating of effective or higher in the Educator Effectiveness System; they have a three-year average growth score showing students are not meeting expected growth on average; they were not a primary teacher of record in eSchool or did not hold a special education, library media specialist, or school counselor job code according to certified Cycle 5 data; they were a primary teacher of record for a pre-K course; they were teaching in a shortage area but did not have a three-year average growth score showing students are meeting expected growth on average or a highly effective annual rating; or they mentored, but the person they mentored was not a one-year resident or the mentor did not meet the qualifications.