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Federal grants will help NC schools recruit, reward and retain teachers

A teacher at Mint Hill Elementary works with a student. Elementary school teaching jobs are some of the hardest to fill, state reports show.
Ann Doss Helms
/
WFAE
A teacher at Mint Hill Elementary works with a student. Elementary school teaching jobs are some of the hardest to fill, state reports show.

The U.S. Department of Education Wednesday announced $24 million in grants to help North Carolina schools recruit and keep teachers.

The federal Teacher and School Leader grants support programs that provide better compensation, working conditions and diversity for public schools, at least partly by providing performance-based compensation for educators. North Carolina got a disproportionate share of the $115 million awarded for 2023.

The awards were:

  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools got $2.8 million to expand its Teacher-Leader Pathways program, which offers raises of up to $18,250 a year for effective teachers who take on extra duties coaching colleagues and working with more students. It’s being used as a model for North Carolina.
  • Wake County Schools got $4.6 million to launch a program called Project LEADERS, which creates performance-based teacher pay at 24 high-need schools. 
  • Montgomery County Schools got $8.3 million for a new teacher and principal effectiveness programin 11 high-need schools.
  • The Innovation Project, a Raleigh-based group that’s working with eight North Carolina school districts, was awarded $8.3 million this year. Its news release says it will get $21.5 million over the course of three years for work recruiting teachers and principals in Asheboro City Schools, Edgecombe County Schools, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools, Lexington City Schools, Mount Airy City Schools, Scotland County Schools, Vance County Schools, and Warren County Schools.

The federal report indicates all recipients are likely to get three years of funding, which would more than triple the total for the North Carolina projects.
The grants come as schools across the country struggle to fill classrooms and find teachers of color who can represent the diversity of their students. North Carolina officials recently reported a rise in classroom vacancies and a decline in the number of people enrolling in colleges of education.

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Ann Doss Helms has covered education in the Charlotte area for over 20 years, first at The Charlotte Observer and then at WFAE. Reach her at ahelms@wfae.org or 704-926-3859.