Monday, November 19, 2001

VIRGINIA BEACH (AP) A stipend for nationally certified teachers will be reduced by two-thirds this year because of the state budget stalemate.
In 1999, Virginia approved a bonus plan to encourage teachers to pursue national certification considered by many educators to be the highest seal of achievement in education.
Under the system, state teachers get a $5,000 bonus the year after they win certification and an extra $2,500 a year afterward. But this year, Virginia’s 70 newly certified teachers will get only $1,632 each, a state education official recently told a legislative committee. The 53 other nationally certified teachers will receive $816 each.
“Once again, we give lip service to saying the state really wants quality teachers,” said Jean Bankos, the president of the Virginia Education Association. “It really cheapens what these people have been through.”
To win certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, teachers spend nearly a year videotaping classes, analyzing student work and writing essays. The fee to apply is $2,300.
In its two-year budget, the state earmarked $262,500 last year and $157,500 this year for the bonuses. Last year’s amount covered the full bonuses.
Teachers should get their checks by the end of the year, said assistant state superintendent Thomas A. Elliott, who briefed legislators on the shortfall late last month.
State leaders often come back in the second year of a budget cycle to revise allocations. Gov. James S. Gilmore III and legislators earlier this year proposed adding more to fund the bonuses, but because Mr. Gilmore and the legislature stalemated on the extent of the car-tax cut, the state’s budget could not be altered.
Democratic Gov.-elect Mark R. Warner has vowed that nationally certified teachers will get the full bonus next year.
State officials noted that the law providing the bonuses does not guarantee them, saying they will be awarded “to the extent funds are available.”
“It’s not that teachers were singled out,” said Cheri P. Yecke, the state’s deputy secretary of education. “I’m sorry that these people were impacted because of this unfortunate situation. The chances of it ever happening again are very slim.”
The process of national accreditation has won praise from educators for helping to pinpoint good teachers and improve their skills. Skeptics say the standards for accreditation are not linked to student achievement.
Across the United States, about 9,500 teachers have won the national designation.

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