A Madison School Board member who proposed using $1.3 million in docked teacher pay to give workers $200 year-end bonuses has withdrawn the idea.

Board member Ed Hughes said his proposal stirred up a "hornet's nest of resentment" in the community. He said he received lots of emails as news outlets around the country picked up the story, first reported by the State Journal on Thursday.

"We need to recognize the hard work and dedication of our teachers and I am going to continue to look at ways to do that," Hughes said in an interview, but added: "As a school board we don't need these distractions."

The $1.05 million proposal called for giving $200 Dane Buy Local gift cards to the school district's 4,030 teachers and other employees, and another $60 to cover taxes, as a year-end bonus.

About two-thirds of Madison teachers were absent during at least one of four days in February, which caused Madison schools to be closed on Feb. 16-18 and 21. 

The absences, part of a coordinated action by Madison Teachers Inc. so teachers could participate in protests of proposed collective bargaining changes at the Capitol, prompted the district to withhold $1.3 million in pay.

Hughes made his proposal as an amendment to the district's 2011-12 proposed budget. The district is expecting a $5.5 million to $6.2 million surplus this year, including the $1.3 million, which it hoped to use to make future debt payments.

Hughes said he still stands behind a different proposal to increase the property tax levy by $2 million next year to pay for maintenance projects, technology upgrades and a state-imposed plan for talented-and-gifted programming. Superintendent Dan Nerad has proposed a $243 million levy, but Hughes would like to increase it to $245 million, which is the same amount that was raised this year.

Another proposal from board member Arlene Silveira would use $1 million from the surplus to pay for the maintenance projects.

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