Taking a page from the professional sports world, the Biloxi Public School District is planning to use a $586,000 federal grant to offering signing bonuses and longevity bonuses to secondary math, science and special education teachers.
The district is proposing to use a Hurricane Educator Assistance Program (HEAP) grant to provide $1,000 signing bonuses in 2009 and 2010 for as many as 80 new secondary math, science or special education teachers. In addition, these teachers would receive "salary premiums" of as much as $1,000 and no less than $750 in 2009 and 2010.
The HEAP grant would also help retain existing secondary math, science and special education teachers. The district's existing 91 teachers in those areas would receive annual salary premiums of $500 in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Dr. Paul A. Tisdale, superintendent of Biloxi Public Schools, admitted that signing bonuses "are something that you normally associate with professional athletes, but the fact is, what we're proposing to do is use this grant to hire and/or retain teachers in hard-to-fill subject areas."
A new secondary math, science or special education teacher signing up with the Biloxi Public School District would stand to pick up bonuses of up to $4,000 over three years of service, Tisdale said, and existing teachers in those subject areas would be eligible for premiums of $1,500 over three years.
The school district is awaiting state approval on the proposal.