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SALT LAKE CITY — A new legislative bill is paving the way to reward teachers for working harder and getting better results at lower income schools. Sponsors of HB212 say their hope is to cut down on the high turnover rate at those schools.
The idea for HB212 came as administrators with the Granite School District talked with Rep. Mike Winder, R-West Valley City, who is now sponsoring the bill.
"There's accountability measures within the Legislature itself, wherein these schools have higher accountability; there's more pressure," said Ben Horsely, spokesman for the Granite School District. "Why aren't we rewarding these teachers for coming in to this challenging environment and, in turn, being successful?"
HB212 aims to do just that.
"What (the bill) does is it says: If you're a teacher and you can help your classroom grow ever year, and you're ranked in one of the top percentiles of growth, then you can get an extra $5,000 the first year you do it. And then that bonus can go up to $10,000," Winder said.
Granite's 14 Title I schools serve some of the state's lower-income families, which makes for some big challenges to teaching.
"We have a high mobility rate, which means we have a lot of students that move in, they stay for a certain amount of time, and then they leave," said Cami Russell, a fifth-grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary in South Salt Lake.
"We have a lot of students that are coming that are missing holes in their skills, and so we're always trying to catch them up," Roosevelt Principal Malynda Cloward said.
That makes it extremely tough to keep good, experienced teachers. Cloward said she loses about half of her teachers every year.
But HB212 could help remedy that, offering incentives for top-performing teachers to come and stay at Title I schools.
Ninety-two schools statewide would be eligible for the program, which would cost about $650,000 a year. Winder said he's optimistic for his bill's future because it already has a lot of support, including more than 20 co-sponsors in the House.
Contributing: Jordan Ormond