CHICAGO — More than 130 Chicago Public Schools teachers were awarded cash bonuses Thursday, as they were recognized for excellence leading their schools.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett congratulated the principals by offering bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. In all, the district doled out more than $1.1 million in bonuses to 134 high-performing principals who helped boost academic achievement in their schools. Last year, in the inaugural Principal Quality Initiative, CPS awarded bonuses to 84 principals.
”When you listen to these principals talk, you understand that they are not driven by bonus pay, but by what they can help their students achieve, pure and simple,” Emanuel said in a written statement.
About half of this year's recipients were also recognized last year, CPS said. Thirteen principals are from so-called welcoming schools, which are accepting students from the 50 schools shuttered by the district this spring because of budget cuts. Nine are from elementary and high school charter schools; seven are from turn-around elementary schools; two are from military high schools.
The Principal Quality Initiative debuted last year with a goal of ensuring each school has a highly effective principal by the 2014-15 school year.
“A great principal is key to a great school,” said Byrd-Bennett. “A well-rounded principal will support and develop great teachers and curriculum plans and in turn great teachers create a thriving school culture where students can succeed. I congratulate these 134 outstanding principals for their dedication to their students, teachers and school communities and thank them for their work to help lead our children on a path to a brighter future.”
But some questioned the timing of the bonuses, which come as the district faces a $1 billion deficit and after 3,000 employees got pink slips since May.
Raise Your Hand, a group which has been critical of the school closings and the budget cuts, sent a Tweet Thursday saying: "It's nice that @ChicagosMayor can help downtrodden principals surviving on 6 figure salaries. Many are deserving but timing is so wrong?"