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Columbia Missourian

Merit pay system debated at school board candidate forum

By Alix Wiggins, Kelly Brdicka
March 19, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA – School Board candidates offered varying responses on the possible implementation of a merit pay system in Columbia Public Schools at a Columbia Missouri National Education Association forum Thursday night.

Candidates were each allowed a one-minute opening statement followed by four questions from the National Education Association, two questions from the floor, and a one-minute closing statement.

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When asked for their opinion of tying professional compensation and rewards to student achievement, including test performance, the candidates responded:

Jonathan Sessions:

Phil Peters:

Jan Mees:

Dan Holt:

James Whitt:

Other topics included: religion in the classroom; the value of career and technological education; how the board would handle the bond issue if passed; and allowing teachers to choose a collective bargaining, or union, representative.

All candidates agreed the bond issue is much needed and would be handled responsibly. They also agreed that teachers, not the board, should choose whether or not they want a representative. A few candidates said they had no problem working with a future representative and others expressed a desire for more information on the subject.

The School Board candidates will appear on the April 6 ballot.