In 2012, the Davison school district in Genesee County technically complied with a state merit pay requirement by giving its top teachers a $1 bonus.
Two years later, the Davison school district accomplished the same degree of noncompliance by giving all but three of its 292 teachers a $200 bonus.
Davison's new merit pay system is to give 215 teachers it rated as “highly effective” and 74 rated “effective” (the top two out of four categories) an equal amount it labeled as a "bonus." But the bonus was not determined by their individual performance, but rather by the district’s financial status. In 2013-14, the amount was $200.
Based entirely on seniority and academic credentials, the district's average annual teacher’s salary was $58,968 in 2013-14.
“It also should be noted that our district philosophy is that ‘we are all in this together’ and our success is due to the hard work and efforts of all employees,” wrote Michelle Edwards, the school district’s public information officer in a letter.
However, Mackinac Center policy analysts say clearly the district is not taking the merit pay law seriously.
“It’s better than $1,” said Audrey Spalding, the director of education policy at the Mackinac Center. “It seems like there is a real aversion at some school districts to make any type of distinction between high and low performers. Giving everyone $200 is not a thoughtful way of implementing merit pay. And $200 at the end of the year is not going to change your life or your behavior.”
Mackinac Center legislative analyst Jack McHugh quipped, “This is not merit pay for the best; it’s demerit pay for a tiny handful.”