Dozens of teachers in Jackson County have a little extra money in their pockets this year as a reward from the state for a job well done.
Thousands of Hoosier teachers have received or will receive performance grants if they were evaluated and rated to be effective or highly effective last school year. Evaluation results were released by the Indiana Department of Education last spring.
All Seymour Community Schools and Brownstown Central Community Schools and Medora Junior-Senior High School received the state funding this month.
Crothersville Community Schools use an older teacher evaluation system by contract and were not eligible to participate in the grant program. Medora Elementary did not receive any money because the school did not reach the required percentage of students passing the ISTEP+.
Greg Walker, superintendent of Brownstown Central Community Schools, said the district received $66,869.25 to distribute to all teachers at the elementary, middle and high schools. He estimated 90 to 100 teachers were eligible.
He said the amount varied per building, with the middle school receiving the most at around $40,825.95, followed by the elementary school with $16,425.01 and the high school with $9,618.29.
Schools were awarded the grants based on the percentage of students passing the ISTEP+ or high school end-of-course assessments and graduation rates.
Schools that had 72.5 percent to 90 percent passing rates on the tests received $23.50 per pupil; 90 to 100 percent passing rates equaled $47 per pupil, and schools that showed above a 5-percentage-point improvement also received $47 per pupil.
High schools with 90 to 100 percent graduation rates earned $176 per pupil; 75 to 90 percent received $88 per student; and above 5-percentage-point growth received $176 per pupil.
Brownstown teachers received their money Friday, with checks ranging from around $300 to $1,700, Walker said.
“It was a bonus to reward teachers for what they do every day,” he said. “All of our teachers work hard, so it was a good way for the state to show its appreciation.”
It’s not known whether the grants will be renewed next year.
Seymour Community Schools received $123,305.25, which will be distributed among teachers at the high school, middle school and five elementary schools.
The corporation is waiting for more direction from the state on how to handle tax and benefit withholdings before distributing the money early next year.
“There’s so much confusion right now that we just want to wait until the dust settles a little,” said corporation business manager Steve Nauman. “What we don’t want to do is hand this money out and then have to ask for some of it back.”
Nauman said teachers will get their money, but it may be after the first of the year.
The issue is on the agenda for discussion at the school board meeting at 7 p.m. today.
Medora Superintendent Roger Bane reported nine teachers at the junior-senior high school shared $5,587.66. Teachers who left the corporation this year were no longer eligible for the grants.
“I think they were excited to receive that money,” Bane said. “I sure didn’t hear any complaints.”
Although the grants can be an incentive for teachers, Bane said, they also can cause a rift among teachers who do not get them.
“We’re all in this together,” he said. “But in our case this separates the elementary from the junior senior high school.”
In its first distribution of teacher performance grants, Indiana awarded $30 million to more than 1,300 schools, both traditional public schools and charters.
The governor’s 2013 recommended budget originally proposed the concept of school performance awards. The awards were signed into law as part of the biennial budget, House Enrolled Act 1001, for fiscal year 2015 only.
“Indiana teachers and schools work each and every day to make a difference in the lives of our children,” Gov. Mike Pence said in a news release. “This commitment to excellence brightens both the future of our young people and that of our state, and I fully support, as I did on Day One in office, rewarding their tireless work.”
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Brownstown Central Community School Corp.: $66,869.25
Medora Junior/Senior High School: $5,587.66
Seymour Community School Corp.: $123,305.25
Seymour by school
Seymour Middle School;$45,287.05
Seymour High School;$20,249.07