Mayor Emanuel to give merit bonuses to CPS principals

August 15, 2011 7:11:14 PM PDT
Mayor Rahm Emanuel is setting up a $5 million fund to provide merit pay to Chicago Public Schools principals. The bonus is designed to reward the best school leaders for outstanding performance.

Emanuel pointed out that this first CPS merit pay program is a major step toward keeping a campaign promise. This year, some 600 principals in the district will work for more money than is listed as their salaries.

"I want every principal to succeed, because if the principal is suicceeding, the kids are succeeding," said Emanuel.

The mayor held the news conference at a West Side elementary school to announce what he called a "first-in-the-nation" program to award successful principals bonuses if their schools meet or exceed performance goals.

"They exceed these benchmarks, there will be financial reward that goes with it," said Mayor Emanuel.

The rewards will range between $5,000 and $10,000 a year, paid from a $5 million fund staked by wealthy, private donors recruited by millionaire Emanuel. Schools CEO J.C. Brizard says the incentives will help recruit and retain the best principals.

"It keeps highly effective people in the job versus them leaving the profession," said Brizard.

But Clarice Berry, the CPS Principals Association president, complained that her organization was not contacted about the program before the announcement.

"I hope not to be here again with news media asking questions about something I haven't seen that is this important to the people I represent," Berry said.

Monday was Emanuel's first public appearance with Brizard since the CPS administration and board announced they would seek a property tax increase to help resolve the district's $712 million deficit. CPS revealed the tax increase plan 10 days ago, held hearings last week, and the board will vote on it next week.

"They put up the budget August 5th. August 24th they're probably gonna pass it. That's not a lot of time to digest a budget that's 600 pages long," said Sara Karp of Catalyst Magazine.

Last week, the Chicago Teachers Union president said her members, who were denied a contracted 4-percent pay raise by CPS, are considering a strike vote. Emanuel was asked about the possibility at the news conference.

"We are here, all of us, because the children are the priority," said Emanuel. "And I believe that a lot of teachers know that."

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