At Issue: Should best teachers get more pay to work at worst schools?


LAST WEEK: SHOULD PEACHTREE CITY FUND MUNICIPAL BROADBAND SERVICE?

Peachtree City has been studying whether to invest in creating its own municipal broadband service, to provide greater online speed and capacity for local government and business use. The initial $3.2 million expenditure for fiber optic installation and related equipment and staffing is, based on surveys of potential users, projected to yield high dividends over the next decade. Other cities, including Tifton and Acworth, have already established municipal broadband.

Peachtree City is weighing the risk and cost of establishing its own service against the cost of continuing to lease such service from other carriers. The City Council is expected to vote on the measure in January, so we asked local residents what they thought.

Here are some responses:

As a resident of PTC, I am interested and growing a bit concerned over this. There is no lack of risk, certainly. Up to now my reaction has been that we should explore this. Now I am focused more on the question of why we are not including residents. If we are to continue to be innovative and try to get to a place where broadband is easily accessible to everyone, that should include residents. As a somewhat conservative, perhaps in some ways libertarian, I am also loath to have government providing this kind of service. Still, why not act collectively as a community and choose to do this ourselves, and include all. New ideas are needed. — Rick Sanderson

I am not saying that it is a bad idea, but Chattanooga is probably not a good comparison. They got kind of lucky because the municipal electric company happened to already have the infrastructure in place. Essentially they were able to piggyback off of that system. I don't know if Peachtree City has that same luxury or not. Either way, it's an interesting idea. — Keith Yancey

Absolutely not. I can only assume the $3.2 million "seed money" for equipment and administration will come from tax revenue. [The] Council is assuming they will recoup the cost of the system and become profitable through attracting a high number of subscribers. There is no guarantee they will recoup the costs. The council announced that they are considering a SPLOST for maintenance and repair of the cart path system and other transportation needs. Rather than put millions into a risky venture, put the broadband money into the cart path system and forget the broadband for the time being. — James Graw

Yes. Chattanooga has had great success doing this. More municipalities should do it. — Charles Mitchell

— Jill Howard Church for the AJC

The Fulton County school system has a pilot program where top teachers can earn $20,000 stipends for working in its lowest-performing schools. No other system in Georgia offers these kind of incentives tied to merit to induce the best teachers to work in the neediest schools. The stipends award more money to teachers who elicit high test scores and other measurable achievement by their students.

School systems across Georgia are closely watching to see if Fulton’s model is successful, amid talks at the state level about changing teachers’ compensation.

The district is part of a small but growing group of U.S. school systems bucking the long-standing educator pay system based on academic degrees and years of experience.

Fulton leaders, however, say they’re finding it a challenge to get qualified teachers into lower-performing schools. Although 375 were eligible to participate, only 32 applied, according to Eddie Breaux, a human resources staff director for Fulton schools. He said some of the teachers who did not apply said they believed teachers and principals would not support them. Many did not want to make longer commutes.

What do you think? Should the state follow Fulton’s model and entice the best educators to teach at the lowest-performing schools? Send comments to communitynews@ajc.com. They may be publised in print or online in next week’s editions of the AJC.