243 Seymour teachers earn performance bonuses

Most Seymour Community School Corp. teachers will receive performance bonuses as early as Friday.

Those bonuses are around $140 less this year, school officials said.

School board trustees approved a memorandum of understanding for distribution of 2015-16 teacher performance awards during a meeting Tuesday night.

This year, Seymour received $69,752.08 from the state to distribute to its highest-rated teachers, those receiving a score of 3 or 4 on their yearly evaluations.

The money will be divided up among 243 teachers, said corporation business manager Steve Nauman. Teachers earning a rating of 4 (highly effective) will receive $248.52, while a 3 rating (effective) gets them $247.52. Teachers rated less than a 3 will not receive a bonus.

Teacher evaluations are based on students’ ISTEP+ scores and growth, school accountability grades and input from school principals who spend time observing the teachers in the classroom.

A total of $40 million in teacher performance grants was made available to Hoosier schools by the state in 2016. Schools receive the money based on ISTEP scores and graduation rates.

In 2015, Seymour received $108,243.99 from the state in teacher performance money. A total of 237 teachers received bonuses that year, earning $389.04 for teachers rated extremely effective and $1 less for those rated effective.

Cheryl Fenton, a teacher at Seymour Middle School and president of the local teachers union, the Seymour Education Association, said most teachers are in favor of being evaluated to learn how they can improve.

But they do not agree with basing a portion of their performance on how students score on standardized tests, she said.

Some state officials are concerned the formula for the funding is flawed because the state’s wealthiest school districts, which typically have the best performing schools, are receiving the most money.

Teachers in Carmel Clay Schools, one of central Indiana’s wealthiest school districts, received bonuses of more than $2,400, while teachers in Wayne Township, a poorer Indianapolis-area district, received checks totaling a little more than $42, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.