Incentives for teachers OK’d

Board of Education Chairwoman Janice Marie A. Tenorio, center background, gestures as she speaks during the BOE meeting on Wednesday. Also in photo are BOE members Philip Mendiola-Long, Andrew Orsini, vice chairman Herman Atalig, Commissioner of Education Dr. Alfred B. Adam left, back to the camera, and Public School System federal programs officer Tim Thornburgh, right, back to the camera. Photo by Lori Lyn C. Lirio

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THE Board of Education on Wednesday unanimously approved the release of $1.3 million in incentives to 641 teachers, instructors, counselors, librarians, principals, and vice principals.

BOE Chairwoman Janice Tenorio, Vice Chairman Herman Atalig, members Andrew Orsini and Philip Mendiola-Long voted for the release of the incentives. BOE member MaryLou Ada was absent.

PSS federal programs manager Tim Thornburgh said half of the incentives will be released before Christmas and the other half will be received at the end of the school year “so that teachers will stick throughout the school year.”

Teachers and other instructional staff were supposed to get $2,000 each, while principals and vice principals would receive $3,000 each.

But the board on Wednesday decided to “equalize” the incentives — teachers and administrators will each receive $2,000.

The U.S. Department of Education has provided PSS $12.3 million through the Restart Project to support the reconstruction and repair of public schools destroyed by Typhoon Yutu in October 2018.

The amount included the $1.3 million in retention incentive for teachers and educators.

Mendiola-Long wanted teacher aides to receive a portion of the incentive, and noted that it is for “new and current teachers, school principals and assistant principals, and ‘other educators’ [in] school-based positions.”

He added, “I believe [the federal program] gives the Board of Education the ability to define what their ‘other educators’ are, otherwise they would have been specific… So I think we are empowered to define that. It is the school district that defines who their educators are.”

He said if the U.S. Department of Education was “particular on who gets it and who doesn’t, then [it] should have been more specific in its definition.”

PSS legal counsel Tiberius Mocanu agreed that the grantor’s definition of “other educators” appeared to be “open-ended.” But he added, “I think it might be a little reckless to simply do it and ask them later.”

The BOE members then asked Education Commissioner Alfred Ada and PSS federal programs manager Tim Thornburgh to “reach out” to USDOE and inquire about the definition of “other educators.”

“We would like to include teacher aides into that category,” Mendiola-Long said. “We want to open this [incentive] up as all-encompassing as possible….”

In an interview, Commissioner Ada said he is confident that the grantor will agree with the inclusion of teacher aides in the “other educators” category. But he said PSS will wait for the grantor’s confirmation before including the teacher aides in the incentive program.

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