Teacher raises: Few districts have settled on plans but most that have aren't tying pay hikes to performance

Three of the first four districts to send teacher pay hike plans to the state have opted not to distribute their pay-raise money based on merit.

"There is no performance criteria required for the raise," read the documents from the Holmes County school district submitted to the Florida Department of Education.

The documents from Gulf and Jackson county school districts included similar messages about the money the Florida Legislature allocated -- at the urging of Gov. Rick Scott -- this spring for teacher raises.

Most of Florida's 67 school districts, however, have not finalized plans for how to distribute their share of $480 million.

While lawmakers said their intent was to have raises divvied up based on performance, the "conforming bill" they passed at the end of session gave districts wiggle room. A memo put out by the education department later made it clear performance was not required.

And some districts seem to be taking that message to heart.

"All funds allocated by the 2013 legislature for salary increase will be evenly distributed among employess..." reads the plan from Gulf County schools.

The Jackson district said its raises won't be the same for all teachers, but that is because it is using the money to equalize the "steps" on its teacher pay scale.

The Volusia County school district -- which reached an agreement with its local teachers union Friday -- will hand out raises of more than $2,000 to most teachers, likely by the end of September. That plan is not based on performance either.

The Orange County school district, however, is looking to base its teacher raise plan on performance, using teacher evaluations to dole out the money ("highly effective" teachers would get more than "effective" teachers who would get more than "developing" teachers). The Orange Classroom Teachers Association, however, has not agreed to those plans.

The Wakulla County school district -- the fourth to submit a finalized plan - agreed to a performance plan. It's top rated teachers are to get at least $2,300 raises, its "effective" teachers $2,000 and its "developing" teachers $500, its documents show.


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