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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A new teacher incentive pay plan using private dollars has been launched to help Duval County's struggling schools.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti calls it a turning point for the schools after the Quality Education For All Fund announced it will donate $20 million for the program over the next three years.

"This group put their money for all of our children," said school board member Paula Wright.

Ribault, Raines and Jackson High Schools and the 33 middle and elementary feeder schools will be targeted for the program.

The incentive plan was announced at Rutledge Pearson Elementary School that has shown great gains in eight years under Principal Debbie Crotty's leadership. The goal is to have a quality educator in every classroom in the 36 schools and a great principal as well to maintain continuity and consistency.

"There are already great teachers in these 6 schools. We have to do a better job of retaining and keeping them here, so they don't go to more suburban-like schools or they don't leave education, or they don't go into leadership, they stay here," said Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

One hundred and fifty-four teachers in these schools have data showing they far exceed their peers in getting their students to reach proficiency in reading, math and science. They will be offered $20,000 extra a year to stay three years at those schools, and another 57 outstanding teachers will be recruited to come to those schools for the incentive. Principals can get up to $20,000 in performance pay incentives.

"It is a life changer, it will mean that I am able to put up more money for my own kids for their college," said teacher Frank Graham, teacher of the year at Pearson Elementary. "It helps to shore up some things that we actually use or make or spend as teachers that will help offset some of those costs. It is a game changer. I think it will attract the best."

Wayne Weaver is chairman of the board for the Quality of Education for All Fund . He trashed his prepared script and got choked up talking of how this program, unlike any in the nation, can make a big difference.

"It is amazing to see, it is overwhelming how this is coming together. There is NO WAY that this won't be successful. If we do this, we are going to change education. We can do this, it is amazing."

The private dollars will also fund a teacher training program, a summer principal academy, support for Teach for America, and to recruit math and science teachers by offering masters degree funding.

Duval Teachers United had to agree to this plan. President Terrie Brady said the teachers at all 36 schools show great love and commitment every day at these schools, trying to give the best education they can. "Now they will be rewarded for their efforts and they are going to prove all students can raise the bar for learning," she said.

She challenged parents of students in charter and private schools to come to these schools and see what will go going on, and said she would put education there against those schools. "They need to come back to public education."

The Quality Education for All Fund is an initiative of the Community Foundation. They have raised $36 million dollars and their goal is $50 million.

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