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CINCINNATI SCHOOLS ESTABLISH SYSTEMWIDE MERIT PAY PLAN

Cincinnati teachers approved a merit pay plan to make the city's public school district the first in the nation to replace a seniority system with one based on performance, union leaders said Saturday.

Teachers in the 3,100-member Cincinnati Federation of Teachers approved the plan 55 percent to 45 percent, in votes taken Thursday and Friday.

Allen Odden, a University of Wisconsin professor who designed the plan, said several school districts across the country offer bonuses to teachers for good performance but Cincinnati will be the first to implement a systemwide merit-pay system.

The new system, previously approved unanimously by the Cincinnati Board of Education, will be phased in over a five-year period in the 47,000-student district.

Union President Rick Beck, who supported the change, said the close vote reflected doubt among some teachers about whether the school administration will act in their best interests, based on a long history of labor-management tensions.

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