sioux falls, sd
Reaction to the changes in the teacher incentive legislation have been mixed with some saying the changes are an improvement. However, many educators and administrators say it's not enough and isn't addressing the real issue.
No one's arguing teachers don't work hard, but how they should be rewarded is the subject of scrutiny.
"It's better than the original proposal," Sioux Falls School District Business Manager Todd Vik said.
Vik is responding to the part of the bill that rewards top teachers. The bill, amended by lawmakers on Tuesday, still requires merit pay but gives districts more flexibility. Vik says that helps.
"We like the fact that there's at least going to be a process where you don't have to go with the one size fits all option, but you have to withhold a little bit of judgment on that because you don't exactly know what that process will be," Vik said.
Vik says Sioux Falls wouldn't need to take advantage of incentives for math and science teachers. Instead, the district would like more flexibility to fund other needs.
"Our biggest issue has been special education; elementary with ELL background. It's been gifted teachers and early childhood teachers; those are the ones we've had the most trouble getting," Vik said.
While Vik says he agrees with some of the proposed changes, he says the real issue is still per student funding. He says that's what schools really need right now.
"State government is growing this year at about seven percent and we're looking at 0.8 and we're talking a small part now driving the issue, this performance pay and market-based program, when we're missing the big issue that are we falling further and further behind," Vik said.
While Vik says the district is not against performance pay, he says the bill doesn't give districts their fair share. More money could mean boosting the pay of all teachers, which is a reward Vik says is needed.