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Charlotte-area districts wage bonus battles in the final stretch to staff schools

Courtesy of Carrie Tulbert
Last year Carrie Tulbert, principal of Iredell-Statesville's Oakwood Middle School, filled in as a bus driver because of staff shortages.

A bonus battle is shaping up in the Charlotte region as school districts compete to fill jobs before schools open. The always-intense scramble to staff schools is fueled by federal COVID-19 aid.

The result: Recruitment and retention bonuses as high as $7,500 are being dangled for people willing to fill hard-to-staff teaching jobs in high-need schools. Bus drivers can expect higher hourly pay and other incentives.

And districts are getting creative: Iredell-Statesville Schools offers low-cost child care for employees, located at some of its schools.

So it's a good time to be a public-school job seeker, but the patchwork of incentives can be complicated. Here's a sampling of what's out there:

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

  • $7,500 recruitment bonus for teachers in hard-to-fill positions at 10 high-needs schools.
  • $5,000 recruitment bonus for teachers in hard-to-fill positions in other schools (must come from outside CMS).
  • $2,500 signing bonus, paid in two installments, plus an additional $200 a month, for special education and secondary math teachers.
  • $3,000 bonus, paid in two installments, for transportation technicians.
  • $1,000 bonus, paid in two installments, for bus drivers and HVAC staff.
  • CMS has additional incentives and bonuses for substitute teachers, cafeteria managers and after-school staff. Get details about all CMS jobs here.
ISS recruitment ad.png
Iredell-Statesville Schools
Iredell-Statesville Schools is advertising its perks and bonuses.

Iredell-Statesville Schools

  • $3,500 signing bonus for teachers in hard-to-fill positions.
  • $3,000 retention bonus for all teachers at three high-needs schools.
  • $1,000 retention bonus for all special-education teachers.
  • $100 a month bonus for bus drivers with perfect attendance.
  • For teachers and coaches who get their professional driver's license, $42 a route for filling in as a driver, or $7,560 a year to take a daily route.
  • Tuition assistance for teacher assistants at some schools to become teachers.
  • Get details about all ISS jobs here.

Union County Public Schools

  • The school board just authorized $4,000 recruitment/retention bonuses for teachers in hard-to-staff subjects at four high-needs schools. The bonus will be paid in installments, with different schedules for current staff and new hires.
  • Get details about all UCPS jobs here.
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.