Tennessee Teachers Offered Bonuses For "Priority Schools"

Reported by: Webb Wright
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Updated: 5/09/2013 7:07 pm
      CHATTANOOGA (WDEF)--The Tennessee Department of Education unveiled a new program aimed at bringing and keeping teachers at so-called "priority schools".
      And much like in the business world, it starts with cold, hard cash.
      It's one of the biggest problem facing what the State of Tennessee refers to as "priority schools", attracting and keeping quality teachers.
      "We had teachers that were set in then after a couple of months they were just gone, for different reasons I don't know and it hurts the student when they get use to some teachers and then they move on," said Mona Davis, the parent of an Orchard Knob Middle School student.
      "We know that a high turnover rate in a priority school is not beneficial to the student, they need the stability if a school is turning over the faculty every year, how is that going to benefit students" added LaFredrick Thirkill, principal at Orchard Knob Elementary.
      The State Department of education is implementing a new incentive program aimed at priority schools.
      It offers teachers a 7 thousand dollar signing bonus if they spend two years at a priority school and offers additional money to districts to pay more bonuses as well.
      "I think it's an excellent idea. A good foundation starts with good teachers who are caring and concerned," Davis said.
      "I think that if you look at corporate America and if we look at what happens on Wall Street and some of the bonuses that are paid to big CEOs of companies or people in business that produce better products or help the company improve, they are incentive-ized why can't teachers be," added Thirkill.
      Brainerd High, Chattanooga Leadership Academy, Orchard Knob Elementary and Middle, Dalewood Elementary, and Woodmore Academy are all priority schools in Hamilton County.
      One educator would like to see incentives expanded beyond teachers.
      "I think that if there was some kind of way to incentiveize parents who support children in school and to give them some more motivation or more enthusiasm, it would be awesome to be rewarded for that," said Thirkill.
      Teachers who do not stay with the "priority school" for the mandatory two years would have to pay back the bonus.

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