Hillsborough County Schools Superintendent Jeff Eakins.

Hillsborough Schools knows the most important factor contributing to student success is having a great classroom teacher in front of our children.

That is why Superintendent Jeff Eakins, School Board Members and Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association President Rob Kriete stood side-by-side to propose ‘Spark,’ a landmark teacher incentive initiative. The groundbreaking initiative aims to recruit top talent who are currently working in our district, and teachers from outside our district, to teach in one of 50 high needs Achievement Schools. It was recently approved by the School Board.

‘Spark’ is a teacher incentive initiative that will provide substantial extra pay on top of teachers’ salaries, along with other benefits. The goal is to not only create a spark to encourage teachers to answer the call in our Achievement Schools, but also spark the minds of the children they will influence in the classroom.

Teachers currently at Achievement Schools, and those who choose to serve in Achievement Schools, will be offered incentives that the district and the teachers union believe will ultimately pay off with greater student achievement outcomes.

The incentives for the 2019-2020 school year will include extra pay up to $13,000 per year; $7,500 per year in the highest needs Tier III schools, $5,000 per year for Tier II schools and $3,600 per year for Tier I schools.

Teachers who are National Board Certified are also offered $4,500 per year and $1,000 per year is available for teachers through the ASPIRE program or as a National Board Certified Teacher mentor.

Teachers in Tier III schools will receive free childcare from the district’s before and after-school care HOST program for their children in K-8th grade. Teachers in Tier I and II will receive 50% off child care.

Hillsborough Schools has approximately 200 classroom vacancies; the majority in Achievement Schools. Superintendent Jeff Eakins and the School Board are making teacher recruitment and retention a priority to ensure every child has an effective teacher leading their class.

The funding for this incentive initiative comes from Title I and SAI (Supplemental Academic Instruction) funds, which must be used in high needs schools. This initiative will put $17 million into the pockets of our teachers who work in Achievement Schools. This funding does not affect the money that is used for overall teacher salary negotiations, which comes from other sources.

Superintendent Jeff Eakins believes this will be an incentive for many teachers. “We know we need to make a major change that will bring our most experienced teachers to the children who need them the most. Across the nation, teachers must be compensated for the incredible work they do in the classroom. This is the first step our district is taking to ensure teachers across the country see Hillsborough County as the best option for their careers.”