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Bill Would Let Districts Boost Pay Of Teachers At Struggling Kentucky Schools

Creative Commons

Local officials would be able to boost the salaries of teachers in struggling public schools in order to make the positions more attractive to job applicants, under a bill that passed a state Senate committee on Thursday.

Senate Bill 152 would only apply to schools that the Kentucky Department of Education considers to be in “targeted” or “comprehensive support and improvement” status.

Sen. David Givens, a Republican from Greensburg, said the legislation would make poor-performing schools more attractive to experienced teachers.

“It became clear that current law in Kentucky does not speak adequately to the fact of whether or not a school district can choose to pay their certified staff there more or not,” Givens said.

Local school districts would be in charge of developing the incentive packages that would be received by teachers. The boost would apply to all teachers within a designated school, but wouldn’t apply district-wide.

Iris Wilbur, a policy analyst for Greater Louisville Inc.— the Metro chamber of commerce — supports the measure as a way to attract better teachers to struggling schools in the city.

“Due to the difficult tasks of filling classroom vacancies within these challenging schools, districts are forced more often than not to hire inexperienced staff,” Wilbur said.

The proposal comes as the Republican-led legislature is considering a bill that would scale back retirement benefits for teachers.

No districts would be required to implement the pay increases.

Sen. Gerald Neal, a Democrat from Louisville, said he supported the bill but that lawmakers needed to increase funding overall for schools.

"We certainly need another tool in the toolbox for decisions to be made to address the issues in our priority schools,” Neal said.

The legislature passed a temporary version of the measure in 2003, but only one district used the program.

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