School Board Approves Bonuses for In-Need School Principals

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PANAMA CITY-- Three Bay District School principals will each receive $10,000 bonuses.

School Board members approved the bonuses during Tuesday's meeting, but not all of them agreed with this decision.

Board members approved $10,000 bonuses to the principals of three of the district's "in-need" schools: Patterson Elementary, Oakland Terrace Elementary and Jinks Middle School.

But at least one board member raised some questions.

"We're rewarding bonuses without results. We're rewarding a bonus for one of the schools that went from a 'D' to an 'F,'" Board Member Joe Wayne Walker said.

These three principals have annual contracts. That's why they're given year end bonuses, instead of waiting to see academic results before they're rewarded.

They've also just completed their first year at their schools, after they were recruited to take over.

Oakland Terrace and Jinks' school grades dropped, but Patterson improved.

"Oscar Patterson actually brought up to a 'D.' But, a 'D' school... I don't want to brag about a 'D' school," Walker said.

All three of the schools also qualify for the Title I program. With large low-income student bodies, they receive extra federal funding.

"Anyone out there will tell you that teaching at a Title I school or being a principal at a Title I school has some very unique challenges to it," Board Member Steve Moss said.

Moss said he thinks the three principals are trying to improve their schools, even if they haven't yet achieved the results.

"They did not have to move. They could have stayed at their original schools that they were at and been very comfortable. But they choose to take the challenge and go to some of those Title I schools and see if they could make a difference," Moss said.

But Moss also says he understands Walker's frustrations.

"We want results, and I don't think anyone in the district is happy with what the grades are right now, especially with the D's and the F's," Moss said.

Bay District schools maintained an overall "C" average this year.