Board approves Henderson incentive pay program

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 28, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
The Rowan-Salisbury Board has unanimously approved an incentive pay program for employees at Henderson Independent High School.
The federal School Improvement Grant will provide funding for the program, which is intended to help recruit and retain strong teachers and administrators.
The school received the nearly $2.2. million grant in July 2010 after being identified as one of the stateís consistently lowest-achieving schools. The grant, which is distributed over a three-year span, mandates the use of incentives.
Dr. Christopher Vecchione, grant coordinator and interim principal, said he modeled the incentive program after schools in Gaston and Guilford counties that received the grant.
ěOne thing I asked both districts was ëIf you could make changes to their plan what would they be,í î he said. ěI took their suggestions and improved their plans to draft a hybrid of both.î
Teachers will receive ěpay for performanceî incentives of up to $5,000 annually based on student achievement, graduation rate, staff attendance, student attendance, student discipline and dropout goals. Vecchione will be able to earn as much as $9,000 extra each year, and the assistant principal can bring in up to $5,500 more.
The graduation rate climbed to 15.75 percent last year, up from 10.5 percent the previous year. This yearís goal is to jump to at least 23.65 percent.
ěI have no doubt we are going to be much better than that,î Vecchione said.
Teacher absences are also down this year, a trend that should be easy to maintain, Vecchione said.
ěI want no one else other than classroom teachers in place,î he said. ěUltimately, the person who will make the most impact is the person that has a relationship with the student.î
Staff members will need to have an attendance rate of 97 percent, which equates to five absences, to receive the incentive.
Vecchione said raising teacher attendance rates will also have a positive impact on student attendance.
ěWeíve been talking about kids and the relationships that weíve built with the,î he said. ěThey canít learn if they arenít in school.î
Vecchione said he has no doubt the Henderson staff can reach or exceed each goal.
ěWeíve got some phenomenal new teachers and the returning teachers have renewed energy,î Vecchione said. ěOur mantra this year is ëwhatever it takes, all hands on desk.í
ěHenderson will not be turned around by rules, it will be turned around by relationships.î
Vecchione said the entire incentive plan is student focused to ensure they are succeeding.
ěThe reason the numbers are so important is because behind those numbers are real student lives, and we really believe in that,î he said.
School board member Bryce Beard said the plan should give staff the push to keep working toward turning around the school.
ěA lot of people donít think we can do it,î he said. ěBut we are on the right track with people who own the problem and are investing their time and energy to make a new identity for Henderson.î
The incentive plan will be implemented this year and run through the expiration of the grant at the end of the 2012-13 school year.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.