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Toledo Backs Off Plan To Pay Principals $515 To Administer Test to 4th Graders

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The Toledo, Ohio, school district has put on hold an agreement to pay principals extra money for administering a test to 4th graders after complaints from the teachers' union and criticism in the local news media.

District administrators reached a memorandum of understanding in January with the Toledo Association of Administrative Personnel to pay elementary school principals $515 for overseeing a new state proficiency test for 4th graders. The tests were given the third week in March.

The Toledo Federation of Teachers said talks over extra pay for principals should have been put off until next year, when all of the employee contracts expire in the 39,000-student district.

Dal Lawrence, the teachers' union president, is threatening to suspend the district's 14-year-old peer-review program if the school board approves the payments to principals. The evaluation system, which makes teachers responsible for reviewing colleagues, has received national acclaim.

Superintendent Crystal Ellis and the president of the administrators' union argue that the supplemental payments are a fair way to compensate the district's 43 elementary principals for the extra work generated by the new tests.

They note that testing coordinators in high schools are paid an extra $1,030 a year, and coordinators in junior high schools receive $515.

Mr. Ellis said he believes that elementary school principals should also receive the money because the testing program, which takes a week to administer, adds to their workday. Under their contract, principals work a set number of hours.

But in a recent editorial, The Blade, a Toledo newspaper, called the payments "unprofessional" and questioned why other educators in the district are receiving money for duties that the paper argued should be part of their jobs.

The criticism prompted Mr. Ellis last week to delay asking for board approval of the payments. He said he hopes to resolve the matter and ask for approval of the agreement this month.

Added Work

Mr. Lawrence said the tests create the most work for teachers. But he turned down administrators' offers to pay an elementary teacher to assist principals in giving the tests. "We don't want the money--it makes us look as greedy as middle management," the union president said.

David McClellan, the president of the administrators' union, said that Mr. Lawrence is begrudging administrators the same kinds of supplemental payments teachers and other employees receive.

"His job is to represent teachers," Mr. McClellan said, "not to negotiate for any other group in the city." The larger problem, he said, is that principals' salaries are too low. The top pay for an elementary school principal is $47,340.

Because of contractual agreements, the district cannot raise administrators' salaries beyond a certain amount without giving teachers similar increases.

The payment squabble is likely to get worse, Mr. Ellis said, because next year the district will have to give the proficiency test to 6th graders and give Ohio's graduation test to 8th graders instead of just high school students.

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