Public Educator, Administrators Receive Promised Bonus

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    By Igho Ayoro

    Local School Districts administrators, licensed educators and classified personnel recently received the bonus and pay increase promised by the Utah legislature during its 2007 general session.

    Randall J. Merrill, Provo School District superintendent, said the bonus shows teachers” efforts are appreciated.

    “This is good news for public education,” Merrill said. “Regardless of the amount, the awarding of this bonus to educators in our district is a strong, clear signal from the legislature — and the public — that what we do is important and valuable to our society.”

    Senate President John Valentine, R-Provo, said the increase was to show public educators they play a vital role in the state.

    “When we had a large surplus in education funds last year we wanted to make certain that teachers know how important they are to our education goals,” Valentine said. “To reflect that importance, and to attract and retain the best and brightest, we wanted to raise the whole system of compensation for teachers.”

    He said the senate also felt that a one-time bonus, in addition to the raise, would send the message that teaching is a profession, not just a job.

    The legislature provided about $815,000 statewide to pay the bonuses. An additional $187,240 was made available for classified personnel bonuses.

    Bob Gentry, Provo School District personnel director, said about a $2,400 increase went to the base salary of teachers, before taxes.

    He said a one-time bonus of $1,200, before taxes, was also given to teachers.

    Gentry said the decision for the bonus and increase in pay was to encourage people to stay and teach in Utah.

    “There is a teacher shortage,” Gentry said. “We have to meet the demands and encourage people to become teachers. Secondly, teachers” salary in Utah is below those of surrounding states. The state legislature and, particularly, the governor wanted to boost the salary of individuals so people would want to stay in the state and not go to Wyoming, Colorado or Nevada, which are much higher than Utah.”

    He said the governor has also promised to increase teachers” salary over a three-year period to make it more competitive with other states.

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