Metro Schools is offering as much as $6,000 in signing bonuses to help fill more than 100 lingering teacher vacancies, two weeks into the semester. The district has been quietly using bonuses all summer on a case-by-case basis but now wants more job candidates to know about them.
The district padded this year's budget with some money for recruitment bonuses. Sharon Pertiller, the district's chief recruiter, says they've been used sparingly — not when someone seems committed to Metro Schools but when the teacher might have multiple offers.
"It's for those situations where we saw that we were struggling, or they may have been offered a position somewhere else," she says. "We wanted to use this as a tool or a mechanism to counter [that]."
To qualify for the largest bonuses, new teachers have to teach in the city's lowest performing high schools, in a subject like math or science or in special needs. Those hired into qualifying positions without a bonus this summer will not be eligible for the money, Pertiller says.
"That would ... deplete our resources," she says. "This is really to fill those vacancies where we still do not have teachers in the classroom."
Some teachers might get money next year, though: The district is considering retention bonuses for the same kinds of jobs.
But the Metro Nashville Education Association is concerned that the cash will make current employees feel undervalued and may not help keep positions filled long term, given the district's past experience with bonuses.
President Erick Huth said in a statement it's time for the city to "move beyond gimmicks and pay teachers a professional wage commensurate with the cost of living" in Nashville.
"All our teachers work hard for the children of Nashville," he wrote, "not just those hired after the start of the year in a few content areas.”