Bill would reward some teachers with cash bonuses

FRANKFORT — A bill that would give cash incentives to more Kentucky teachers for helping students achieve high scores on Advanced Placement tests in math and science won approval Wednesday from the state Senate Education Committee.

Senate Bill 13 would expand on a privately funded program called Advance Kentucky that already gives cash incentives to math and science teachers in 44 participating schools across the state. SB 13 would make incentives available in more schools but wouldn't reach all Kentucky schools, said its sponsor, Sen. Ken Winters, R-Murray.

The bonuses would cost the state about $1.2 million a year, although the cost would rise as more schools joined the program, Winters said.

Under the proposal, teachers in advanced high school math and science classes could get as much as $500 for each student who achieves high scores on Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate tests in any year, starting with the 2012-13 school year. The biggest bonuses would be for students eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches.

The overall goal is to boost the number of students entering advanced math and science classes in Kentucky high schools.

SB 13 drew no outright opposition. But some committee members voted "pass," saying they feared singling out math and science teachers for cash awards could alienate teachers of other subjects. The Kentucky Education Association has expressed the same concern about similar proposals that failed to pass in previous years.

Also approved by the committee Wednesday was Senate Bill 12, which would allow Kentucky school superintendents to appoint principals. Now, principals are named by the site-based council in each school. A similar measure failed to pass last year.

The Kentucky Department of Education has taken no formal position on either bill.

Jim Warren