Lamar district chosen to reward high performing teachers with cash

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Just a few days into the 2013 legislative session and at the top of Governor Phil Bryant's legislative agenda is merit pay for teachers.

The governor suggests the legislature change the Mississippi law and start paying teachers for quality and not just longevity.

"We need merit pay to make sure that if you've got a teacher who is being exceptional, reward that teacher," said Governor Phil Bryant.

Bryant believes teachers should receive cash rewards for their high performance and is asking the legislature for $2,000,000 to fund a pilot program for a performance-based pay system.

Clarksdale, Gulfport, Rankin County and Lamar County have been chosen to take part in the pilot program.

"We got a call from the governor's office, and asked if we wanted to be one of them and we said absolutely," said Lamar County School District Superintendent Ben Burnett.

The pilot program allows the school districts to design their own system to reward teachers for their high performance.

"We've identified a representative from each faculty in Lamar County, so we'll have every school represented to come together and give us their input about how they think it should be designed," said Burnett.

Being one of four school districts chosen, Lamar County is excited and hopes the pilot program gets funded.

"I think it'll be a reward, and not that money is the best thing in the world, but I think that it at least shows teachers that we value those who go above and beyond," said Burnett.

If funded, teacher's performance will be based on the entire 2013 – 2014 school year.

Copyright 2013 WDAM. All rights reserved.