Bonus checks mailed to Miami-Dade teachers

Paychecks for Miami-Dade teachers hit the mail Friday, and they’ll be fatter than usual thanks to the distribution of $20 million in performance bonuses.

The money is the last of Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ federal Race to the Top funds available for teacher performance pay. For most teachers, the money should make good on a $2,500 promise from Gov. Rick Scott when combined with raises already received in the fall. Many will get about $1,000, with 700 top performers receiving up to an additional $3,000.

The release of bonuses comes without the fanfare of previous years, when Superintendent Alberto Carvalho held celebrations that included the types of oversized checks handed to winners of the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. At first, the largest bonuses were worth $25,000. And then last year they were reduced to about $5,000.

This year, they were reduced even further, and the bonuses — which are negotiated with the United Teachers of Dade — for the first time were based off of Florida’s new formula for teacher evaluations. By doing so, the district is aligning its performance pay with state law, which for new teachers will provide them raises based off their evaluations. But the system that is distrusted by many educators due largely to its reliance on a complicated, test-based formula.

“We acknowledge that this system is flawed,” union president Fedrick Ingram wrote to teachers. “It has been created this way due to the mandates in law to which we must adhere.”

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