UNION COUNTY, N.C. — Union County Public Schools approved new incentives aimed at hiring more teachers and retaining those already on staff at four schools, including cash bonuses.
The district is now offering up to $4,000 for English, math and science teachers at East Union Middle School, Health Sciences Academy at Monroe Middle, Forest Hills High School and Monroe High School.
"Those are some of our most geographically challenged schools, the schools that are on the eastern side of our district, which can be a longer drive for people who want to work in those schools," Kevin Plue, principal at Forest Hills High School, said.
The bonuses were unanimously approved by the board on Aug. 2.
"We have to think differently about recruitment and retention strategies to keep teachers in our school," Superintendent Andrew Houlihan said. "We recognize that teachers are considering other professions, but we need them and we want them to stay with Team UCPS."
Some parents in Union County said the one-year incentive may have an unintended ripple effect.
"Maybe there's some concern with some of the parents in the neighborhood that may draw away some of the teachers from some of the schools that my kids go to," Marc Neglia, whose kids attend UCPS schools in Waxhaw, said.
"What does that mean for the teachers they then bring onboard?" Neglia asked. "Do they then run away after the first year because they took their $4,000 and left?"
Plue said the school district had to get creative to try and lure qualified teachers.
"It's just what the data shows where we've had the most challenges in filling and retaining teachers so we're focusing on those areas with this particular initiative," Plue said.
Current employees at the four schools who teach English, math, science and exceptional children classes will receive $4,000. The payments will be dispersed over 10 months during the 2022-23 school year.
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Union County officials said in July that pay raises and incentives for existing and new employees were keys in the effort to attract and retain teachers.
New employees who are hired for the designated areas will also receive $4,000, but it will come in two installments. Candidates must be hired with a start date on or before Aug. 29 to qualify. People interested in applying with Union County Public Schools can click here for more information.
The district said it's able to support the initiative through ESSER III funding at a cost of $735,000.
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