Baton Rouge: $7,500 Bonus To Be Given To New Teachers Hired in Core Subjects

New teachers in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system are eligible for a hiring bonus in the amount of $7,500 if they are teaching a core topic, hold a valid teaching license for the state of Louisiana, and make a written commitment to be employed by the school system for a period of three years.

Currently, the school district is having difficulty filling classrooms in preparation for the next school year of 2022–23. There were 233 open teaching jobs in the school district on Thursday, with 110 of them being in key areas such as English and arithmetic.

There was a 7-0 vote in support of the new hiring incentive on Thursday by the parish School Board of Education. Before the vote, a number of people worried that the decision would make current employees angry because they wouldn’t get the incentive.

The goal that Superintendent Sito Narcisse had was to return early in the new school year with an employee stipend that would cover the vast majority of staff members. Narcisse is advocating for an 8% raise for all employees for the 2023-24 school year.

The school district proposes to spend roughly $1.1 million on bonuses, which would cover more than 100 bonuses. Federal COVID relief funds will be used to support the project.

In recent months, Collins has pushed for the school system to use federal funding to boost staff remuneration, but has been met with resistance. Her preference is for a general bonus, not simply one for new hires. Hall said in her statement that the bonus would only be given to teachers recruited between May 24 and August 5.

According to a document released by Hall’s office on Wednesday, Narcisse has agreed to employ only “external candidates” for now, in order to stabilize the number of vacancies in the schools. According to the document, district management has been filling numerous roles by recruiting personnel from school sites, which has resulted in new teaching positions being available.

It was also the first time the board and the public saw the $7,500 bonus proposal on Wednesday. Evelyn Ware-Jackson, a member of the board, said that the delayed date would not strengthen the faith that workers have in the administration. “Having it come the day before a board meeting might send a signal we don’t want to send,” Ware-Jackson said.

A vocal educator named Storm Matthews, who is also a member of the Association of Educators chapter in the parish, said that the teaching shortage was made worse by questionable staff reassignments this spring. She pointed out that more than 300 teachers had departed the district since April. It was Matthews’s recommendation that the board take action that night, rather than wait for a superintendent, to give extra money to “those on the trenches.” “Take care of your current educators,” she said. “We are tired.”

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