New RPSB program will financially help anyone with a college degree become a teacher

A growing crisis is taking place in school systems across the country as there are not enough teachers in the classrooms anymore.
Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 5:46 PM CDT
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RAPIDES PARISH, La. (KALB) - A growing crisis is taking place in school systems across the country as there are not enough teachers in the classrooms anymore.

This problem is one that the Rapides Parish School Board is trying to get ahead of with a new program they are launching for anyone looking to further their career in education. At the July 5 school board meeting, board members approved the Rapides Alternative Temporary Authority to Teach program, which will allow anyone with a college degree, even if it is not in education, to start teaching in the parish.

“If you’ve ever considered a career change and want to consider changing the world through education, then it’s the time to do it right here in Rapides Parish,” said Rapides Superintendent Jeff Powell.

The commitment by the school board is an attempt to fill the 82 vacancies currently across the parish. Powell said the amount of open positions heading into the school year has doubled compared to this time last year. Anyone accepted into the program would become a full-time teacher earning a teacher’s salary that starts at $42,810.

Superintendent Powell said during the meeting that the starting salary and benefits combined for a new teacher totals $70,000.

Proving just how critical it is to address the teacher shortage, the school board will financially help anyone pursuing their teaching certificate.

“We will reimburse you for your PRAXIS exams, and we will reimburse you for up to 50% of the college tuition to become a certified teacher,” said Powell.

As part of the program, anyone who completes it and becomes certified will be required to teach in Rapides Parish for at least three years, however, Powell said this commitment will be beneficial for everyone involved.

“We have lots of folks that are already in our classrooms that didn’t go to school to be teachers but felt that call,” said Powell. “We want to do everything we can to support them and particularly make sure that our students and the children of Rapides Parish public schools are provided the best opportunity for teaching and learning as possible.”

Each teacher hired will be mentored by staff members at that designated school. The mentors would receive supplement pay for helping out with the program.

The motion brought up at the board meeting called for hiring 30 teachers with the program, however, board member Linda Burgess amended that motion to be able to hire as many teachers as they can.

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