Roughly 5 percent of Utah teachers would be eligible described as Utah's "rock stars" by Winder with bonuses awarded if those teachers remain at or transfer to one of the state's 100 most economically impacted campuses.
Winder's bill, as amended, requires participating school districts to match the program's state funding, which would cut the measure's initial state price tag from roughly $900,000 to $365,000.
Winder said many low-income schools are seeing an exodus of teachers, and said Granger Elementary in his city lost 50 percent of its teachers last year. "We need to provide an incentive for highly effective teachers to stay and be attracted to those schools."
But Rep. Marie Poulson, D-Cottonwood Heights, a retired teacher, said a problem with the bill is it excludes teachers whose students do not take standardized tests such as in grades 1 through 3.
It also excludes secondary school teachers whose subjects are not included in annual testing, like art, history or social studies.
Rep. Joel Briscoe, D-Salt Lake City, another retired teacher, said when he has seen schools turn around, it was changing the "entire culture of the school. It wasn't bringing in one or two rock stars."
"Will it succeed? I don't know. I think we should give it a chance," said Rep. Bruce Cutler, R-Murray.
Winder said the bill covers enough teachers to be an effective pilot program to see if bonuses may be effective, and could be expanded later to include others.
"At the end of the day it's about the kids," Winder said. "For some of these kids in these tough situations, their teacher is their last best hope."