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S.C. Considers Schoolwide Salary-Bonus Program

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The South Carolina legislature is expected by this week to give final approval to a revamped incentive program under which virtually all categories of school employees could share in bonuses if their school exhibited superior performance.

The proposal would replace seven-year-old individual incentives that have never been popular with the state's teachers.3

The measure has been approved by a conference committee, and is expected to be endorsed by both chambers.

Currently, South Carolina spends $17 million on two incentive prorams for teachers, and $4 million on incentives for principals. The new leg0 islation would consolidate the three programs into a single, campus-based program funded at $14 million.

The remaining $7 million from the current level of spending would be split among all teachers, provid0 ing a raise of about $180.

During the 1988-89 school year, the latest for which statistics are available, 9,118 educators--or L about 24 percent of the state's full-0 time teachers, counselors, and lirarians--qualified for bonuses of between $2,000 and $3,000. Nearly 300 principals qualified for bonuses of $2,500 to $5,000.

The individual incentive program, which was established by the state's 1984 education-reform bill, has frequently been criticized by teachers, who claim it pits teacher against teacher for increases.3

To get the bonus, a teacher must apply for the program, provide docu0 mentation that demonstrates supe0 rior student achievement during the year, get a superior performanceLel10levaluation, partake in advanced Ltraining, and miss fewer than 10 days of school.

Current law also provides for a "campus model," under which, if their district takes part, teachers can also get the bonus if their school attains superior scores on statewide exams and they participate in a school-based improvement plan.

The proposed legislation would expand the latter program to cover principals and other school employ0 ees, as well as teachers, all of whom would be able to gain bonuses if the entire school showed "exceptional improvement in or the maintenance of superior student performance."

A special campus-incentive adviso ry committee, which would include teachers, principals, a guidance coun selor, a superintendent, a school-H board member, and members ap pointed by the governor and the state superintendent, would be charged with developing the program.

According to the Southern Re gional Education Board, Kentucky and Colorado already have adopted, but not yet implemented, similar L campus-based incentive programs.

Several other states have pro grams to reward successful schools, but they specifically bar schools from using their additional money to boost salaries.

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