Last June Newark Public Schools offered new teachers in hard-to-fill subjects a $4,000 signing bonus.
Last fall Paterson Public Schools offered new teachers a $7,500 bonus—and hired 149 new educators.
Today the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Camden City Schools will offer new teachers a $10,000 signing bonus in order to fill 50 vacancies—about 7% of its teaching staff— for this school year. These bonuses are for teachers certified in math, science, English as a Second Language, and bilingual roles. Superintendent Katrina McCombs said, “this is where we are. It’s important for us to be competitive.
Newark, Paterson, and Camden’s strategy to attract new teachers in hard-to-fill subjects is not making the state teachers union happy. NJEA spokesman Steve Baker told the Inky that its leaders have “real concerns” about using bonuses. Here’s Baker:
While different districts have different situations and different approaches, in general we need to make a career in public education more economically viable over the long term so we can both attract and retain the best people. Bonuses are a Band-Aid when what we need is a cure.
The median salary for a Camden district teacher is $$65,568., not including benefits, and the starting salary is $54,272. The median teacher salary in the state is $74,186.
Governor Murphy’s Task Force on teacher shortages has recommended the state develop a state-funded program that would provide bonuses or scholarships for hard-to-fill positions throughout New Jersey.