Updated 2:15 p.m. Jan. 6, 2017.
The North Carolina Board of Education has approved the distribution of millions of dollars in teacher bonuses.
The board discussed the allotments at its first meeting of the year Wednesday, and its first with newly-elected State Superintendent Mark Johnson.
State legislators set aside the funds to reward third grade, Advanced Placement, and International Baccalaureate teachers whose students had demonstrated significant growth or passed exams last year.
Board member Patricia Willoughby said Wednesday that she appreciates any extra funding for teachers, but that the bonuses for third grade teachers disregard the work of educators in earlier grades.
“I'm an old second-grade teacher, so what you're saying to me is that it didn't matter what I did in second grade,” said Willoughby, who serves at large.
More than 1,200 third grade teachers whose students demonstrated the highest reading growth in their districts last year are eligible $2,000 to $8,000 in bonuses, according to a state report. Approximately 1,100 third grade educators whose students demonstrated the most reading growth in the state will receive another $3,500.
Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate teachers will receive $50 for every student that passes their AP or IB exam, up to a $2,000 maximum.
Board members voted to approve these allotments Thursday. According to Department of Public Instruction Business Director Alexis Schlauss, her department will next distribute the funds to local school districts, which will determine teacher eligibility and pay out the bonuses by Jan. 31.
At the start of Wednesday's meeting, Board Chairman Bill Cobey welcomed the new state superintendent to his first meeting with the state Board of Education. Cobey has filed a lawsuit over legislation that would transfer several of the board’s powers to Johnson. Wake County Judge Donald Stephens issued a ruling Dec. 29 blocking the law, pending a hearing this Friday.
The new law would give Johnson, who beat longtime incumbent and Democrat June Atkinson in November’s election, greater control of the state education budget, direction of charter schools, and the ability to hire and fire senior-level state education staff.