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  • Writer's pictureJohn Hinds

The Case for Incentive Pay in School Leadership

I know this might not be the most popular post but I’m going to write it anyway. I was a principal for 17 years. Each year around April I would receive an email from HR with my new contract for the next year with a dollar amount and the number of days I would work. The option was to sign and return it or resign. Those were my two choices and there was no room for negotiation.


paper on clipboard with two people pointing to it, one with a pen


I am a very competitive person. In fact, according to CliftonStrengths, my top 5 themes are:

*Achiever

*Competition

*Focus

*Relator

*Ideation


This combination of strengths means that I must accomplish things. Every day. It’s in my DNA.


Therefore, I would like to have had some incentives built into my contract: incentives that would benefit the district, me, and the campus. Some options that would have motivated me would have been financial bonuses for:


*Increased faculty attendance

*Increased student attendance

*Decreased discretionary suspensions

*Increased business donations

*Increased student achievement scores


These are just a few incentives for school administrators that would be monetarily beneficial to the district, would benefit the staff and students, and could be objectively measured.


For example, let’s say that I raised student attendance by 1% for a $1000 bonus. It would be up to me to create an environment that students would want to come to school more and the monetary benefit to the district would far outweigh the $1000 that I would receive. This would also apply to staff attendance. Or, what if I used my resources (time, personnel, money, etc.) to increase student achievement scores? The district would benefit because more parents would want to move into my attendance area which would generate additional tax revenue for the district.


The incentive pay could be offered on a sliding scale. If it were at a struggling school, a veteran principal might be able to voluntarily move to that school, implement different/better systems and raise the scores quite a bit for an even larger increase.


Professional athletes do this all the time. Teachers also have this option in many places. There are principals who wouldn’t be motivated by incentive pay, just as there are those in corporate jobs who have different priorities. However, for those with a competitive streak, the idea of incentives aligned with personal and school achievements could be a compelling consideration for enhancing performance.


Agree or disagree?


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