Teachers Miss Out On Cash Bonuses

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Revenue surpluses generated by record home sales and a booming economy are providing many Valley educators with cash bonuses. But like water, the money isn't flowing uphill.

Local educators, after reading a June 3 story in The Arizona Republic about the extra money teachers in Deer Valley, Mesa and Scottsdale are receiving, wonder if they too will benefit from similar bonuses, ranging from $450 to $1,100 per teacher.

Payson Unified School District Business Manager Bobette Sylvester said robust state sales tax increases and land sales have brought in more revenues, but she said teachers will not likely see cash bonuses. Instead, surpluses will be used to boost next year's performance paychecks.

"The money will also be used for part of the (contract) raise teachers receive next year," she said.

Teachers who met their performance pay objectives during the past school year will receive about $1,600 in Proposition 301 monies by June 30.

Next year, with the increased revenue, eligible teachers will earn about $2,200, Sylvester said

Voters approved Proposition 301 in November 2000, establishing the Classroom Site Fund.

The legislation added a 0.6-cent sales tax, which is allocated to the Classroom Site Fund. School districts are required by law to use that revenue for teacher salaries and teacher performance pay.

Last spring, the board of education gave all Payson teachers a 2.78 percent salary raise effective next year. The raise is about $840 per teacher, but because Arizona State Retirement Fund contributions have increased, teachers may not notice the difference in pay.

This year, state schools will share nearly $417 million -- about $58 million more of fund money than last year.

Although some valley districts are using the extra money for teacher bonuses and to increase contracts, others -- like Phoenix Union -- are setting aside the money to offset future increases in teacher benefits.

Some state districts have not yet decided what to do with the increases.

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