County schools to offer new teachers $1,000 bonus

One-time incentive to go to hires in critical subjects

April 09, 1999|By Erika D. Peterman | Erika D. Peterman,SUN STAFF

Hoping to give Howard County a competitive edge in hiring good teachers, the school board voted yesterday to give new teachers certified to teach "critical needs" subjects a $1,000 bonus to work in the county.

Board members made a unanimous decision to offer the one-time incentive to new hires in areas that have a shortage of teachers. Those subjects are special education, math, science, reading, physical and occupational therapy, technology education and English as a second language.

Recipients would be required to teach at least one year in Howard County and complete new-teacher orientation.

"It's not a lot [of money], but it's designed, hopefully, to give us an advantage," said Robert S. Lazarewicz, executive director of operations. Lazarewicz added that recipients who leave the school system before teaching for a year would be asked to pay back the $1,000.

The total cost of the bonuses will not exceed $100,000, school officials said.

Howard County's need to recruit instructors mirrors teacher shortages statewide, especially in certain subjects. School districts across the Baltimore region are offering a variety of incentives to new teachers.

Educators say a strong economy, the pending retirement of a large number of baby-boomer teachers and a general shortage of teaching candidates has created the demand. Lazarewicz said other school districts have offered cash incentives to new teachers, and he expects more to follow.

Also at yesterday's meeting:

The school board approved the design for a replacement for Ellicott Mills Middle School, built in 1939. Rather than renovate the building, which has numerous structural problems, the school system decided to demolish it and replace it.

The new site plan includes 108 parking spaces, an additional 16 for school buses; new storm water basins and a suite for a program for emotionally disturbed students.

Until work is completed at Ellicott Mills in 2001, students will spend two years at the new Bonnie Branch Middle School, which opens in the fall. The project is expected to cost about $9.3 million.

The school board discussed possible changes to the open enrollment of certain schools next year. According to a staff report, the following types of schools, with some exceptions, would be closed to open enrollment: Schools that meet or exceed 95 percent capacity; schools expected to be crowded in the near future; and schools where populations have been balanced by redistricting.

Open enrollment allows students to attend under-capacity schools outside their district. The board will approve open-enrollment schools at the April 22 meeting.

Pub Date: 4/09/99

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