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LRSD teachers receive merit bonuses

Michelle Kondrich for NPR

The Little Rock School District celebrated teachers getting merit raises at a ceremony Thursday night. Statewide, 3,000 teachers will be getting merit raises which range from $1,500 to $10,000.

14% of teachers in the Little Rock School District will get a bonus averaging a little over $2,000. This amounts to more than 200 teachers. This is a new policy implemented as part of Arkansas LEARNS.

Superintendent Jermall Wright congratulated the winning teachers at the meeting.

“We know that some teachers who teach certain subjects in certain categories are not eligible to receive the merit pay,” he said.

Wright said there is “work we need to do to make sure that the merit pay is more equitable than it is right now.”

In order to get a merit increase, teachers have to have made gains in one of three categories. First, they can show “outstanding growth in student performance.” The state determines this using a reporting portal called the “educator effectiveness system” and then looking at the test scores of the teachers' students when compared to other teachers.

If they hold a master’s degree, educators can get a merit raise if they serve as a mentor to other teachers. They can also get a merit raise if they teach in a place “experiencing a critical shortage.” This means a geographical place with a lack of teachers or areas with a shortage of teachers with a master's degree in a particular subject.

Merit raise winner Kimeka Williams, a teacher at Wakefield Elementary, spoke at the event on her “heartfelt appreciation.”

“As educators we do what we do because we love it,” she said. “So receiving this award is just icing on the cake.”

She called the raise an “investment in educators.”

Josie Lenora is the Politics/Government Reporter for Little Rock Public Radio.