ABERDEEN – The Aberdeen School Board gave its blessing Jan. 17 for superintendent Jeff Clay to explore the possibility of staff pay incentives for schools that increase by letter grade rankings. If approved, the system could go into place beginning in school year 2019-2020.
“What we were looking at was taking our baseline data from this year. Moving after with next year, how we do versus the baseline would be the academic incentive. Are we moving grades at schools? Everybody would be involved with the incentive pay. Like with Belle-Shivers last year, most of the teachers would have gotten $1,500, assistants would have gotten $500 or $600, and office staff would have gotten something too,” Clay said.
Through year last’s letter grade ratings, Belle-Shivers Middle School’s score increased from an F to a C. If the incentives are approved, he said beginning with the 2020-2021 school year, staff members could get an incentive for maintaining a school’s certain grade. He also said by school year 2021-2022, central office staff could be awarded incentives as well.
Had the full incentive plan already been in place, Clay said gains and maintenance would have equated to $200,000 in staff incentives from last year’s scores.
“I’d like to give an incentive to the teachers. They’re already working hard but with this, the district awards their efforts,” he said.
Clay expects to report his findings back to the school board in February with a first read of the proposal for the board to consider.
He later updated school board members on early business in the Mississippi Legislature pertaining to education.
“It appears as if there is some bipartisan support for state assessments. From what I’ve seen, there are four bills that have been introduced. The first one is to end core subject tests, which would be at the high school – English II, Algebra I, U.S. History and Biology I – to discontinue them and require administration of the ACT to determine proficiency,” Clay said.
He said the second legislation entering is to remove the mandatory requirement of passing as a condition for graduation.
“If you start talking to legislators versus members of the state department of education, you’re going to get into a hair-splitting session because technically you don’t have to pass. I’ve heard legislators say if they can’t graduate, then they have to pass the test,” Clay said.
Other legislation introduced includes removal of the U.S. History test as a requirement for graduation and to utilize the ACT Aspire assessment for grades three through eighth.
Following an executive session of December’s meeting, school board members approved to extend Clay’s contract through June 30, 2021. The board passed his contract for employment last week.
The district was awarded a $30,000 MCOPS grant for salary and benefits for its three school resource officers, which requires $30,000 in matching funds for safety-related expenses.
“Some of the things we’ve used with matching funds include camera work at the high school, fencing at the middle school, and we buy their revolvers, ammunition and bulletproof vests. At some point in time, we’ll have to buy radios,” Clay said.
In other business, the school board voted to keep Jim Edwards as president and Patrick Lockett as secretary for the following year.
The school board also approved the school year 2019-2020 calendar. The first student day will be Aug. 6, and the last day of school and graduation will be May 21.
One change in scheduling will be allowing daytime parent/teacher conferences Oct. 17 to discuss the first nine-week grading period. Students will not report to class that day.