Teachers will get bonuses for working at ‘hard-to-staff’ schools
The Department of Education is now offering bravery bonuses.
Hoping to boost staffing at troubled schools, the DOE will pay up to $8,000 more a year to teachers willing to tackle the most daunting assignments.
As part of a new teachers union contract, the DOE initiative will offer the money to new staffers at 180 schools — most of them in the Bronx.
Officials said the program will begin taking applications before the end of the year. Intrepid candidates will be subjected to a “stress test” to gauge their ability to handle the difficult gigs and an outside consulting firm will be hired to devise that exam, according to the DOE.
“It’s hard to get teachers to go into environments that are the toughest,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a press conference Thursday. “Sometimes that’s just because of geography alone . . . and sometimes it’s a history of schools struggling to succeed.”
The mayor said “hard-to-staff” schools breed constant turnover and chronically unfilled positions. The new DOE payouts will be staggered over three years in order to limit the number of early escapees.
De Blasio said the DOE will determine each school’s particular staffing needs and offer the boosted salaries accordingly.
Flanked by schools chief Richard Carranza and UFT boss Michael Mulgrew, de Blasio insisted Thursday that the new initiative was not just another pricey Hail Mary for struggling schools akin to his controversial Renewal program.
That plan has pumped money and consultants into teetering schools in order to induce turnarounds — with critics noting limp results.
“This is something entirely different,” de Blasio said. “We’ve got a culture change we’re going to have to achieve . . . It’s about addressing this hard-to-staff reality which went unaddressed for decades.”
The new UFT deal, slated to be ratified Friday, will provide the city’s 76,000 teachers salary increases of 2 percent in February, 2.5 percent in May of 2020 and 3 percent in May of 2021, officials said.
The new accord will have little new impact on the Absent Teacher Reserve, a pool of educators without permanent positions due to incompetence, budget cuts or disciplinary issues who still receive full pay.
Mulgrew said the ATR quagmire has been used to generally “demonize” city teachers, and he insisted Thursday that the system adequately removes poor instructors from classrooms.
Carranza, who referred to Mulgrew as his “brother from another mother” during the press conference, said city educators are used as “piñatas” by those critical of the DOE’s overall performance.
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