It's much like a teacher who knows a student can do a better job and asks them to rewrite their essay and hand it in again.

Two school districts and six charter schools will be receiving a letter later this month from the State Office of Education. The notice will include advice and directions on revamping their performance-based compensation plan.

Until they receive the letters of instruction, all that districts and charter school officials know is that their plans were labeled as vague during discussions in State Board of Education meetings last week.

The merit-based plans are a result of SB281 from the 2008 legislative session. The Legislature earmarked $20 million in one-time funding for the compensation plans. The money will be doled out to districts based on enrollment.

USOE received 88 merit-pay plans for approval. Thirty-seven of the applications were from school districts while 51 were from charter schools.

During discussions last week, members of the state board decided eight school districts and charter schools need to beef up their plans.

The board is requiring the district or charter school to add more detail to their plan, have it approved again by the local board and send it back to USOE by Sept. 1.

The districts that need to add more information to their plans are Kane and Weber. The charter schools include Venture Academy, Providence Hall, Legacy Preparatory Academy, Paradigm High School, Odyssey Charter School and Noah Webster Academy.

Weber District's plan is site-based and is being developed by individual schools and specific district departments. District officials suspect the openness of the plan may have been what didn't sit well with state board members.

"Our initial intent was to give as much flexibility to the schools as possible," said Weber District spokesman Nate Taggart.

Weber's board approved the plan last month. Board president Jerry DeGroot said he and other board members saw no problems with it. "The board members were satisfied with the plan," DeGroot said.

He added he stands behind Weber's idea to give the schools latitude. "Weber board feels strongly that individual schools, principals and staff know what their individual needs are," DeGroot said.

Taggart said he expects district officials will keep the main idea of the plan but add some examples of the type of plans that the schools might be submitting.

Rick Kempton, director of Noah Webster Academy, a charter school headed into its third year in Orem, said he is baffled as to why his school's plan got rejected.

"It's pretty detailed," Kempton said.

Further, the academy's plan is based on the five "Utah Professional Teacher Standards" produced by USOE itself. The school has added a sixth standard, which includes good communication with students, parents and stakeholders, he said.

"I don't know what they (USOE officials) need," Kempton said. "We'll find out when we get the letter."

Some districts and charter schools didn't apply to get the funding.

Three districts, Daggett, Tintic and Uintah, are not participating.

A total of 16 charter schools are not participating: AMES, Beehive Science and Technology Academy, Da Vinci Academy, Guadalupe School, Itineris Early College High School, John Hancock Academy, Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy, Moab School, Navigator Pointe Academy, NUAMES, Ranches Academy, Rockwell High School, Soldier Hollow School, Spectrum Academy, Timpanogos Academy and Uintah River High School.

Monticello Academy was originally announced as not having applied. Monticello officials told the Deseret News on Wednesday they did submit a plan and there was an oversight by USOE. Their plan has now been put on the August state board agenda for potential approval.

State board members said many districts and charter schools found the main challenge to be the limited amount of time to do the plan.

After going through the Legislature, the merit-based plan program was presented to the state board and passed a first and second reading in April. The rule was then adopted on the third reading in May. The districts were required to have their plans to USOE by June 30.

"It was too much too quick for us," said Julie Adamic, director of John Hancock Charter School in Pleasant Grove. She said charter schools are at a disadvantage since they don't have the district staff to delegate to.

Adamic added, "We were very interested and will pursue this in the future if it is offered."

Reports of each school district and charter school are available at www.schools.utah.gov/board/otpbcp/.


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