HISD Teachers Get Record Bonuses

Houston school district officials credit higher student performance district-wide for the record-breaking bonuses going out to teachers and staff members today. Jim Bell reports.

Nearly 90 percent of HISD's eligible employees — almost 16 thousand teachers, principals, teaching assistants and support staff members — are sharing a record total of 31.4 million dollars in performance bonuses. Superintendent Abe Saavedra says it's the district's way of rewarding its best teachers.

"We want to reward excellence. We want to reward not only good teaching, but good teaching that gets excellent results." 

Saavedra says student performance was up district wide, but the incentive bonuses are going only to teachers and staff responsible for the top 50 percent of the improvement. He says it proves incentive pay works.

"The most important thing we do in a public school system is teach children. And the result of that teaching is what should be measured and what should be rewarded. That's the way corporate America does it, and it's about time public school systems start rewarding their employees the same way."

Today's bonuses are for the 2007-2008 academic year. The 31 point 4 million dollar total is up from the 24 million dollars paid out in bonuses for the year before that. The top bonus for a core teacher is about 8500 dollars. The average bonus is about 2700 dollars.

Jim Bell, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.