Proposition 301 brings raises to Kingman teachers

Kingman teachers are beginning to reap one of the benefits of Proposition 301, the sales tax increase passed to increase education funding during the November 2000 election.

A total of 369 fulltime teachers and 13 part time teachers in the Kingman Unified School District received performance-based pay checks in December.

Superintendent Mike Ford said the fulltime instructors each got $500, while the part time teachers received $250 apiece.

Director Betty Rowe of the Kingman Academy of Learning said 43 teachers in her district each received a check for $900 during January.

"We'd planned to evaluate our teachers for (eligibility to receive) 301 money in the beginning of December and give them their first check in January," Rowe said.

"We'll do our last evaluation (this fiscal year) by the first of May and give them another check in June."

The state Department of Education sends Proposition 301 money to county treasurers, who in turn disburse it to districts, Ford said.

A formula similar to average daily membership numbers used in figuring a district's annual budget allocation is also used in determining how much 301 money a district will receive.

Payments are supposed to be made monthly, but disbursing has been 2-3 months behind schedule, Ford said.

The KAL has received two installments totaling $34,405.15 to date, Rowe said.

The KUSD has gotten monthly payments that total $738,000 this fiscal year on what is expected to be $2.182 million for 2001-2002, Ford said.

Teachers in that district eligible for the performance-based pay can expect additional checks in April and August.

"What we chose to do was not disburse money until it came in," Ford said.

"Some districts went ahead and put it into teacher contracts.

Our wording in contracts was set up to pay after the money was received, so we could make sure we were not spending regular budget money on 301 items."

The two local districts are following a formula recommended by the Department of Education on how to spend the tax money.

It calls for 20 percent to go toward increasing teacher base salaries, 40 percent for performance-based pay and 40 percent for menu items.

That would include implementing programs to decrease drop out rates, reducing class sizes, and purchase of classroom items not covered in a district's annual budget.

Information provided by the Arizona Education Association, based on an Education Week magazine survey, indicates our state spends $5,006 per student, which puts Arizona ahead of Utah with $4,579 per student.

However, the figures are adjusted to take into account annual cost of living increases, so Utah is ranked 49th in the nation and Arizona is 50th in student spending.

The Education Week numbers also do not take Proposition 301 money into account.

New Jersey is ranked No.

1 in the country in per-student spending with $9,362.

"I think 301 money will bring our per-student spending figure up some," Rowe said.

"But it will not be a significant increase.

"One thing that is noteworthy is that spending for students and their needs has always been a priority for us, so when we develop our budget we take that into consideration.

We want to be sure that whatever our teachers feel they need to instruct in the classroom is available, so there isn't any problem there."

Ford said the tax money now getting to school districts is no more than a drop in the bucket and will not be enough to raise Arizona's ranking from No.

50 in per-student spending.