A plan for increasing incentives for teachers in the Arlington schools began to take shape last night, two years after a committee began to study the topic, as the School Board held its first formal discussion on a range of specific proposals, ranging from "appreciation grants" to sabbatical leaves.
Superintendent Arthur W. Gosling proposed the $328,500 package of incentives as a way to "enhance professional status, provide recognition and support staff development" for the county's 1,000 teachers.
He also recommended that the board allocate $100,000 from contingency funds to begin some of the incentive measures immediately. These include scholarship funds, a teacher observation program allowing all new teachers and some experienced teachers to spend time observing a colleague and "appreciation grants," which include 50 awards of $1,000 each to teachers for "extra, beyond-contract contributions."
The board is scheduled to vote on the incentive proposals Dec. 19.
Bonnie Pfoutz, president of the Arlington Education Association, which represents most of the county's teachers, praised most of the proposed incentives.
"With one blatant glaring exception, they're very good," Pfoutz said. "They are precisely the direction the association has encouraged."
The exception for Pfoutz is the "appreciation grants."
Gosling suggested such grants might be given to teachers who are leaders in developing new curricula, who organize a service club or help with before- and after-school activities.
Pfoutz criticized such criteria, arguing that an "extra contribution," such as sponsoring an elementary school safety patrol, is a job administrators expect someone in each school to handle.
"If we want, in every elementary school, a student safety patrol sponsor, we have to pay for that, not give the teacher a reward for doing what we've asked her to do," she said.
Pfoutz also questioned the equity of such grants and the effect they would have on the morale of teachers who did not receive them, arguments often raised in opposition to the concept of merit pay.