Q-Comp might extend to principals

/ 1 March 2012 / jennifer

Erin Schmidtke, Session Daily, March 1, 2012 –

Districts in Minnesota have the choice to sign up for the alternative compensation pay program, or Q-Comp, that financially rewards teachers based on merit. That pay option may extend to principals, too.

Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) sponsors HF1510 that would allow funds to be available to principals if schools meet the same requirements they did to earn Q-Comp for teachers. To become part of the alternative pay program, districts must work with staff and the education commissioner to develop student improvement strategies and evaluation systems for educators.

Erickson argues principals are as important as teachers in student achievement and deserve to be rewarded if they make a positive impact on their schools. The House Education Reform Committee approved the bill and sent it to the House Education Finance Committee. It has no Senate companion.

“I want principals to be rewarded for extraordinary work. … If we don’t, we are saying they don’t count for student achievement,” Erickson said.

Roger Aronson is legal counsel for both the Minnesota Association for Secondary School Principals and the Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association. He said that the bill brings fairness and inclusion to Q-Comp by sending a clear message to school administrators that the state values their good work.

Jan Alswager, chief lobbyist for Education Minnesota, testified against the bill. She said that principals have other opportunities for financial reward, and that Q-Comp is not the right incentive for them.

“Q-Comp was designed for teachers who are willing to step up and take leadership positions, which principals should be willing to do by virtue of their jobs,” Alswager said. She added that the money teachers receive from Q-Comp is not enough to share with principals.

Some committee members, including Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka), similarly voiced concerns that Q-Comp money would be diverted from its intended use, when funds are already scarce.

Erickson argued that the core of Q-Comp remains in place with the bill, which she said keeps student achievement as a high priority.

“My bill is not about the money. The goal is to make sure [staff] is working as one,” she explained.

– Erin Schmidtke