Franklin teachers could get more pay

Published 9:22 am Wednesday, April 20, 2011

FRANKLIN—Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday invited 57 school districts that have difficulty attracting and retaining teachers to participate in a program that will award teachers up to $5,000.

Franklin Public Schools was among districts chosen for the Virginia Performance-Pay Incentives initiative and is likely to participate, said Superintendent Dr. Michelle Belle.

“It will be great and I’m excited,” Bell said. “Because of where our salary scale is when we go through the recruitment process, we lose good candidates.”

A starting teacher in Franklin is paid $36,000 annually.

During Belle’s two years with the district, she said, filling teaching slots has been tough, particularly when it comes to technical programs and math.

“We’re having a tough time with (filling an) English (teaching position),” she said.

The initiative approved by the 2011 General Assembly is a centerpiece of McDonnell’s “Opportunity to Learn” education-reform agenda. It provides $3 million in state funding to reward teachers in hard-to-staff schools that earn exemplary ratings during the 2011-2012 school year.

“Teachers who make a commitment to students in hard-to-staff urban and rural schools, despite circumstances that often prompt colleagues to seek assignments elsewhere, deserve our admiration, and when they succeed in raising the achievement of students in these schools, their performance should be rewarded,” McDonnell said.

Belle hopes the extra money will keep good teachers.

“It’s a great thing for our seasoned teachers,” she said. “All of our teachers are working very hard.”

School board President Bill Scarboro was pleased to hear about McDonnell’s program.

“Anytime the governor is doing something to help the teaching staff in Franklin in these meager budget times, it is greatly appreciated,” Scarboro said. “It’s always difficult finding good qualified teachers in Franklin and I think for every division in the state, probably the country.”

Schools receiving funding through the competitive-grant program must implement a comprehensive teacher-evaluation system aligned with performance standards and model evaluation systems approved by the Board of Education. At least 40 percent of teacher evaluations must be based on student academic growth, including, when available and appropriate, student-growth data provided by the Virginia Department of Education.