NATCHEZ, Miss. ( Associated Press) – A Mississippi school district has approved a $5,000 incentive to help recruit teachers.
The Natchez-Adams School District will pay some teachers in areas of “serious need” a $5,000 sign-on bonus to work for them after a unanimous vote by the board of trustees on Tuesday.
The bonus is specific to English, math and science teachers and will be issued “based on the availability of funding,” Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald Greene, The Natchez Democrat, reported. This would be in addition to a historic teacher pay hike that legislators pass at the state level.
Superintendent Fred Butcher said that the district’s biggest need is for math teachers from classes VI to XII.
With 16 vacancies for certified teachers, he said, “we are in a better position this time than last year.”
However, the Mississippi Department of Education said the district would lose its accreditation if no changes were made to its staffing, said Cassandra Tennessee, the district’s assistant supervisor of human resources.
One reason the district cited is that school accreditation guidelines were relaxed during the pandemic and teachers were moved around to accommodate classroom changes to keep students safe. As a result, some teachers are now teaching in many classrooms outside their areas of certification, Butcher said.
Tennessee said the district needs to fix those non-compliance deficiencies or put them on probation when the new school year begins.
“In order to place the district on the recognition status that we are in now, the MDE is giving an opportunity to the districts to vacate these areas by submitting a remedial action plan to the Office of Teaching and Reading by June 3,” she said. .
The challenges of shortage of certified teachers due to the pandemic are not new to the district. Butcher said the district faced similar problems with staffing in 2016.
“It is very difficult to find certified teachers,” he said, adding that another problem facing the district is teacher retention.
School administrators help many non-certified teachers until they become certified. However, when they become certified, they move to another school district, Kasai said. The bonus, which the board approved on Tuesday, is one way to address that problem.
In other cases, the board unanimously extended the butcher’s contract for another year at the same salary of $10,500 per month. Attorney Bruce Kuhenley said Butcher’s previous contract would have expired on July 1.