Federal Education Officials Withhold Some Grant Money from Georgia

As part of Georgia’s federal Race to the Top education grant, state officials agreed to develop a merit pay program for teachers. The idea was to tie a new evaluation system to teachers’ salaries. But after a series of delays, federal officials recently took action.

It took more time than state officials expected to develop the evaluations. Susan Andrews, Georgia’s deputy superintendent of Race to the Top, says creating a merit pay plan to accompany the new system was complicated by the economy.

“Because of that year’s delay and because of the economy and how it has been for several years, we haven’t had the money or the data to go to the Legislature to say, ‘Let’s revamp the whole teacher salary schedule,’ “ she says.

As a result, the U.S. Education Department withheld $10 million of the $400 million Georgia won through the grant.

“They said, ‘You’re not going to be able to do it within the grant period, so we’re going to withhold any money we were going to give you for merit pay,’ “ Andrews says.

Andrews says the Georgia Department of Education is currently working on developing a merit pay plan in the hopes that they’ll receive the money.

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