In 2012, two administrators in the Amphitheater School District are eligible to receive up to $10,000 in stipends, or bonuses.
The district’s governing board recently approved the bonus possibility for the principals of Amphi Middle School, and Amphi High School, who were hired this year to bring the two schools up to federally-set standards.
After the schools failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) standards, they were placed on Corrective Action, and the district faced a possible takeover by the state. Instead of allowing the state to step in, the district took action, hiring new principals, and now offering $10,000 in possible bonuses if the they can bring the schools up to AYP standards.
Amphitheater middle and high schools have not met AYP in four years.
AYP is a measurement defined by the federal No Child Left Behind Act that allows the U.S. Department of Education to determine how every public school and school district in the country is performing academically according to results on standardized tests.
According to the approved measure, the two principals whose schools are involved in Corrective Action receive a stipend of $7,000, and if they get their school removed from correction status, that stipend will become $10,000 as long as they remain out of Corrective Action.
According to school documents, the two principals should receive the stipends because, “The workload for those two principals is above and beyond as they address achievement gaps and weaknesses, with the intent to remove their schools from Corrective Action status. Essentially, their immediate task is to become a turnaround principal. The task requires a heavy workload, a passionate commitment to students, a conviction that all students will learn, a clear sense of purpose, knowledge of change theory, and strategic leadership skills.”
Todd Jaeger, Amphi’s assistant superintendent, said if the state had taken over the two principals would still be eligible for bonuses, while noting the task at hand is big.
“It has to be an incredible effort on their part,” he said. “This task goes well beyond what a principal usually does. We drew this plan from the state model. We don’t want the state to take over, we want to do it ourselves. That’s what we should do.”
However, not everyone is happy with the idea of two administrators getting up to $10,000 extra in 2012, while teachers have not received a pay increase in more than five years.
John Fife, of the Amphitheater Education Association, spoke out against the proposed stipends when the governing board discussed the issue in November.
“I don’t agree with offering bonuses when the community has been told the district has no extra money,” Fife said. “While these individuals are deserving of a lot more pay than they are getting, Amphi employees and staff have not seen a pay increase in years. Insurance and other costs are going up, and take-home pay for teachers is decreasing.”
While Fife said it’s unfair that the teachers in these same schools being placed in Corrective Action are not eligible for a bonus, but the administrators are.
Jaeger said, “The rationale is that while everyone shares the burden, the person in charge of the instructional changes and evaluations is the principal. When the state takes over, they don’t fire the teachers, they fire the principal.”
Besides stipends for principals, the district’s governing board also approved an $8,000 bonus for physics teachers.
Beginning in May 2004, the district has recommended recruitment stipends for positions that are tough to fill with qualified candidates. One of those tough areas is physics.
Jaeger said physics is the “most difficult” position to fill.
“It is just really hard to find teachers that meet our highly-qualified standards,” he said.