Bonuses approved for N’hamp. teachers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 10, 2005

JACKSON – Help is on the way.

Thanks to $813,500 awarded to Northampton County Public Schools as a result of payouts from North Carolina Supreme Court and Superior Court Judge Howard Manning in the Leandro versus North Carolina case, certified/qualified teachers in Northampton County will have the opportunity to increase their paychecks by two percent of their base salary.

In a meeting of the Northampton County Board of Education here Monday, interim superintendent J. Wendell Hall expressed his support for the initiative stating, &uot;We’re serious about doing what we can to attract and keep qualified teachers because we know the impact it will have on the academic performance of our students.&uot;

According to Mike Steed, Director of Human Resources for Northampton County Public Schools, the incentive is part of a dual effort between the county’s public schools system and a team of professionals from the Local Education Agency Assistance Program (LEAAP) in Raleigh, to increase the academic performance of students in economically challenged areas.

&uot;All school systems should be funded by the state in such a way that they are able to provide the educational assistance and resources needed by exceptional children,&uot; he said.

Steed said a good portion of the money awarded to the county would be used for remediation, in school and after school tutorials and summer school while the rest would be used toward efforts relating to teacher recruitment and retention.

&uot;There’s no doubt that there’s a direct correlation between higher levels of academic excellence and maintaining qualified teachers. Classroom stability and consistency in the instructional staff is directly connected to student achievement,&uot; he said.

Steed hopes the incentives will result in the attraction of more highly qualified teachers.

&uot;Most young teachers have a sincere desire to educate their kids and help them attain the skills they need to succeed, but with discipline problems and low salaries, they frequently become discouraged,&uot; he said.

Steed also said statistics reflect teachers entering the profession quit within the first five years because of a lack in support and offered that although two percent wasn’t enough to hold them entirely, it would serve as a means of encouragement for existing teachers who already have their certification.

&uot;The most important thing here is not the bonuses, but the level of support the teachers receive from the school principals, the central office, their peers and mentors and a structured assistance program,&uot; he said.

According to Steed, Northampton County Public Schools already offer licensure assistance and tuition reimbursement and recently hosted staff development classes to assist teachers with different learning structures.

&uot;Incentives and bonuses are good, but we know that it will take more than financial support to keep qualified teachers in our schools,&uot; he said.

He continued, &uot;We want our teachers to know they have a support network to lean on when things get tough and we will do everything we can to encourage them and give them the resources they need to succeed.&uot;

An additional one percent bonus is being considered to reward teachers with perfect attendance.

&uot;I think effort will be successful,&uot; said Hall. &uot;Teachers need to know they’re appreciated.&uot;

In order for teachers to receive the two percent bonus, they must sign a contract agreeing to return to the school for the 2005-06 school year. Bonuses are scheduled to be issued this month.