Harrodsburg announces plan to keep, attract good teachers

October 29, 2003|ANN R. HARNEY

HARRODSBURG - Officials of the Harrodsburg Independent Schools have given preliminary approval to a three-part plan that they hope will keep quality teachers and attract new ones.

The Harrodsburg Board of Education gave first reading to a plan that will:

* Pay staff members to seek education and recertification in areas of teacher shortages,

* Help pay for moving expenses of teachers who move themselves and their families to Harrodsburg from other locations, and

* Help defray part of the cost of obtaining National Board Certification.

Superintendent H.M. Snodgrass says he is only aware of one school district, Oldham County, in which the district pays for education of its staff. He said he knows of no district in the state that reimburses teachers for moving or helps gain National Board Certification.

If approved, the program will not only benefit current certified staff who would like to be certified in a critical area, but employees who have college educations who would like to be certified to teach in a critical discipline and classified staff who want to gain a college education and become certified in the areas where there are teacher shortages.


Snodgrass said the areas of teaching that are in short supply are math, science, special education, foreign languages and, in the high school, chemistry.

College graduates must be hired and work as a substitute teacher in the system while gaining certification, Snodgrass said, and certified staff must remain a working member of the teaching staff while gaining recertification.

Two members of the school board think the program outlined for recruiting and keeping top teachers will work. "Money is tight right now, and it's hard to put up money to further (teachers') educations," said board Chairman Mike Preston.

"I think its a very progressive step," said board member Randall Bartleson. "The school system is in a position like other schools to recruit and retain talented individuals, and we need to be competitive in the job market."

The maximum loan is $5,000 and $1,000 will be forgiven for each year the person teaches in the Harrodsburg system. If the person taking the classes does not meet the goal for which the loan was made, the money borrowed must be repaid within 30 days after the person drops out of the program.

Snodgrass said the other two facets of the program would:

* Reimburse the cost of moving here up to $500, but the teacher must apply for the money in the first year of teaching here and it is not retroactive.

* Pay about one-fourth of gaining National Board Certification. The certification is a fairly new program and costs about $2,000 to obtain it. The state reimburses the teacher for about three-fourths of the cost, and the Harrodsburg schools would pay for the other fourth of the costs, or about $500.

The standards required for the national certification exceed normal certification standards, Snodgrass said. He said the Kentucky General Assembly has seen the value in it and will reward the teacher $2,000, paid over the year's pay, thereby adding value to the teacher's retirement.

The board is expected to give final approval to the program its next meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 18 in the school board meeting room. Snodgrass would like to have the program outlined in the system's recruitment package. The recruitment season is in the spring, Snodgrass said, and he wants the programs approved by recruitment season.

"We have some outstanding teachers, and we want to continue that level of expertise in the future," Snodgrass said. He said the district's salaries are competitive with other school systems in central Kentucky. Two teachers have begun the process of gaining the higher certification.

Harrodsburg Middle School's student test scores over the last year have been lower than expected. While not linking the effort to hire teachers to bring up those scores, Snodgrass said, "We want to be able to attract the most qualified and effective teachers we can identify."

The system has been successful in reaching that goal, at least where one teacher is concerned. Hired for the current school year is the former top science teacher in the state, the superintendent said.

"I think good teaching leads to improved test scores."

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