District Addressing Teacher Shortage With Hefty Sign On Bonuses

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | 1 month ago

teacher bonus

The Natchez-Adams School District (NASD) is in danger of losing its accreditation. Its current staffing shortage must be addressed and solved in order to meet Mississippi Department of Education standards. Because — like many schools across the nation — they are operating despite numerous teaching vacancies, NASD’s deputy superintendent has announced that they will be instituting a $5,000 teacher sign-on bonus. 

The measure was approved by the school board last week. These teacher bonuses will be specifically for positions that are in desperate need, and often difficult to fill. Incoming English, math, and science teachers will be given the bonus “based on funding availability.” This new incentive is expected to fill the district’s most underserved subject, mathematics. For middle school through high school grades, filling math teaching positions has been a struggle. NASD currently has a need for 16 math teachers in the 6th-grade level and above. 

Since at least 2015, staffing mathematics classes has proven difficult. Whereas many people believe that the teacher shortage was brought on by the pandemic, it had in fact, been escalating for many years before that. According to info from the Learning Policy Institute, during the 2015-2016 school year it was reported that 10% of schools experienced serious problems filling math and science positions, and 42 states were experiencing a math teacher shortage. The issue has only gotten worse in recent years because less people are seeking teaching as a profession, and the more numerous portion of the American population are aging and retiring with fewer people to take over their roles. Providing a teacher bonus is not only expected to draw prospective candidates, but also encourage young adults to heed the call and enter the profession. 

Offering teachers a bonus is likely to give NASD a competitive edge, but whether it will prove to be a long-term solution is still unclear. Balancing budgets and meeting student needs during the present situation when low enrollment and attendance issues are plaguing the country is affecting funding. This is in addition to a massive teacher pay raise that was passed by state legislators. Offering bonuses and higher pay in the district and other schools in the area as families leave the system is unsustainable.

For now, NASD’s main goal is to meet state requirements and retain accreditation. If they can do that by offering teacher bonuses, they may be able to address budgeting issues and enrollment trends later. Accreditation determines that an institute of learning is providing a proper education that meets federal standards. Without an accredited education students face learning gaps, low school performance, and difficulty going to college. Schools that lose their accreditation face further enrollment drops, funding cuts, and potential closure. 

teacher bonus

There are many factors which can and will affect the future of the Natchez-Adams School District, but filling vacant teaching positions is the most imminent. Without core class teachers — especially math professors — the students and their school will suffer. The new teacher bonus is likely to heighten interest and save the school. Math teachers have never been more in-demand and their services can not only improve the state of public education, but many schools themselves.