Fulton County schools offering incentives for special education teachers amid national staffing shortage

One metro school district is now offering thousands of dollars in incentives to hire and keep teachers amid a nationwide staffing shortage.

This is on top of the $ 2,000 bonus Gov. Brian Kemp just approved for educators statewide.

Fulton County School System’s new incentives are only for special education teachers right now and that’s because the district says those vacancies are much harder to fill.

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However, we’re told they are working on a very competitive compensation package to fill hundreds of general education positions but overall these incentives are not about money but really shifting the culture on their campuses.

“Kids want consistency,” the district’s Executive Director of SEC Blake McGaha said.

Administrators said they need to hire roughly 600 teachers, about 140 of those need to be educators with a background in special education.

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“We tend to have special education vacancies run a little longer than most,” Ron Wade, Chief Talent Officer, said.

To get those special-education vacancies filled quickly, the district is now offering hiring incentives up to $ 7,500 for a variety of positions including paraprofessionals and full-time teachers.

For current employees thinking about jumping ship, the district will offer an incentive of up to $ 2,500.

“Those incentives include some retention and hiring incentives but a lot of it was put toward support. What they were asking for was time and planning,” McGaha detailed.

Wade went on to say that “it’s not always about dollars and cents.”

Recent reporting from the National Education Association found that the staffing shortage is leaving educators increasingly burned out and exhausted, with 55% stating they’re ready to start a new career path.

“Everyone is overburdened with paperwork but it is an extra intensity for our special needs teachers,” Lisa Morgan, the president of the association’s Georgia affiliate, said.

While these shortages are not new, NEA said what is happening now is an unprecedented staffing crisis across every job category.

“Educators would really like to see that the respect for their time be added into the schedule from administrators,” Morgan detailed.

She’s hopeful that other Georgia school districts will begin to offer incentives also centered around time and planning, not just money, to boost morale and provide consistency in the classroom.

A lack of interest in careers in education, the day-to-day workload of teaching, and stress from the pandemic are partly to blame for this shortage.

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