Raises, bonuses and more: Philly school district outlines its recruiting and retention plan

PHILADELPHIA — The School District of Philadelphia has implemented several strategies to attract and retain talent for the 2022-23 school year and beyond, from creating certification programs to increasing teacher salaries and bonuses.

“We know we’re competing with other districts and charters for teachers because there’s been a decline in the overall number of teachers in the labor market over the last 10 years,” said Larissa Shambaugh, chief human resources officer for the School District of Philadelphia. .

“We have developed strategies for how we can continue to be competitive and showcase the great opportunities that exist in the School District of Philadelphia,” she added.

Last September, the district signed a new contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (PFT) that will see teachers receive raises of up to 9% over three years.

Last year, teachers received a 2.75 percent raise plus a $1,500 bonus. This year, teachers will receive a 3.25 percent raise plus a $1,000 bonus on Sept. 1, followed by a 3 percent raise on Sept. 1, 2023, in addition to automatic step increases for additional years of experience and degrees.

“The starting salary for teachers right now is about $50,000, but the average teacher salary in the district next year will be about $82,000,” Shambaugh said.

“We are increasing teacher salaries to be competitive and also introducing additional bonuses,” she said. “At the end of September, all teachers, nurses and counselors will receive a $1,000 bonus.”

This year, the district started recruiting teachers from January. According to the latest data published by district officials, about 97.4% of teaching positions in the district are occupied for the new academic year. Principals are staffed at 99%, assistant principals at 96.6%, climate managers at 98.7% and consultants at 94.1%.

Teachers working in 42 schools of the district will receive an additional bonus at the end of the academic year.

“They will receive an additional bonus of $2,500,” Shambaugh said. “These schools usually have more needed roles and should be able to hire more teachers.

“We plan to provide additional financial incentives to those teachers who went to these schools this year and will remain there during the academic year,” she added. “They will receive another $2,500 in the fall of 2024 as another retention bonus.”

The district also offers financial incentives for teachers who need to complete coursework to obtain their first or second certification.

“We’re offering up to $2,500 and reimbursement for any courses they have to take in this plan,” Shambaugh said. “We also offer reimbursement if they have to take a practical test to get certified.

“If they accept it, we will reimburse them for it,” she said. “We will also reimburse them if they have to apply for an emergency permit. We want to remove the barriers that can be requirements for certification, where there is a potential financial barrier.”

Earlier this year, the school district launched a paraprofessional teacher pipeline program.

The Paraprofessional Career Development Program, which was developed in conjunction with PFT, allows paraprofessionals to earn teacher certification without paying tuition.

Paraprofessionals serve as teaching assistants or provide additional support services to students, but are not certified teachers. The program partners with four universities: Temple, Cheyney, La Salle and Drexel.

“We pay full tuition for our paraprofessionals who meet the requirements to enroll at one of our four partner universities to be able to either return to school for a teaching certificate or go to school for the first time to pursue a higher education,” – said Shambaugh.

“It’s something that won’t have an immediate impact this year on the teaching role of the people who are taking the course right now,” she said.

“It’s something we invest in our own staff who have already worked with our children to be able to support them long-term and to be able to get into teaching roles or other professional roles within the district,” she added.

Shambaugh said a school district’s work environment, culture and climate are also important factors in attracting and retaining talent.

“We have great school superintendents in our district, and having great superintendents makes a big difference in teacher retention,” Shambaugh said.

“We have developed strategies that allow teachers to have time to collaborate with each other at the school level, to learn from each other and to reflect on student progress,” she added.

Shambaugh added that the new strategies allow the district to offer more financial incentives to teachers and provide additional training to its staff while remaining competitive with other districts.

“We want to make sure that what we’re doing meets the needs of the job market, the needs of our district and ultimately what’s best for our kids,” she said.

Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune. where this story first appeared.

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