Bonus dilemma undecided

Board requests DAC recommendation


— Dozens of Steamboat Springs School District teachers and staff members will have to wait at least another month to find out how much money they will receive in pay for performance bonuses.

The Steamboat Springs Board of Education declined to make a decision Monday night regarding how pay for performance bonuses should be awarded, opting instead for a recommendation from the District Accountability Committee, which brought the issue before the School Board to begin with.

The issue involves the school-based performance award portion of the district's pay for performance plan, a system that rewards district teachers and staff if students meet Colorado Student Assessment Program test score goals set by school accountability committees each fall.

The DAC compares those goals to actual student test scores once CSAP results are released each summer and awards specific dollar amounts dependent on how many of the goals are met. How well schools teach students district virtues and success and self-understanding goals also are part of the pay for performance system.

For the 2002-03 school year, Strawberry Park Elementary School's School Accountability Committee set a goal that 80 percent of the school's third-, fourth- and fifth-graders be advanced or proficient on the CSAP writing test.

Test results released two weeks ago show that 79.67 percent of tested Strawberry Park students are advanced of proficient writers. At its meeting last week, DAC members came to an impasse as to whether Strawberry Park staff should be granted its bonuses for the school's writing goal.

DAC chairperson Deb Jansen presented the problem to the School Board Monday night.

Further complicating matters, Strawberry Park Principal John DeVincentis told the School Board that if the CSAP writing scores of the four students who came to the school district after the official October pupil count are eliminated from the calculations, the percentage of advanced or proficient writers exceeds 80 percent.

The Colorado Department of Education, which rates all state public schools in School Accountability Reports released in the fall, does not include in its school report cards the school CSAP scores of students who move to districts after the October pupil count.

DeVincentis said the district should calculate CSAP results the same way the state does for its School Accountability Reports.

Adding to the dilemma, Superintendent Donna Howell said that if the district chooses to use the state's formula when tabulating Strawberry Park's final CSAP results, it must use the same formula for each of the other schools, which could result not only in increased percentages, but also decreased percentages, thereby raising the possibility of teachers and staff losing bonus money.

Then Finance Director Dale Mellor informed the School Board that as it currently stands, district staff will collect $418,000 in pay for performance bonuses. The Education Fund Board only gifted $400,000 in pay for performance money for the 2002-03 school year, and board policy stipulates pay for performance bonuses must be funded by a source other than the district's general revenue.

The School Board ended the lengthy discussion when it asked the DAC to formally recommend a procedure for doling out the bonuses and requested that Howell examine if and how the district or the Fund Board can provide additional money to fully fund pay for performance awards.

School Board President Paul Fisher said the matter probably won't be decided until September.


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