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      DCSS looks to retain high qualified teachers with bonuses

      For years, the Dougherty County School Board has set aside money to give as signing bonuses for highly qualified teachers. Today, the DCSS proposed the guidelines for a program that will start taking advantage of those funds.

      "The goal of that program is to get highly qualified teachers, there's been an allotment in that budget for years, the district just never implemented guidelines to use those funds," said Finance Director, Kenneth Dyer.

      Teachers that are highly qualified in and teach critical needs subjects like math, science, social studies, and language arts in schools flagged for low graduation rates and student achievement will receive a bonus up to $3,000 when they sign a 3-year contract.

      "By doing these signing bonuses, we actually want to attract some top-notch teachers that then we can retain," said Superintendent, Dr. Joshua Murfree.

      The qualified teachers receive the money at the time of the signing, but if they don't stay for the full three-year contract, they owe that money back. However, for the teachers that do stay, they receive an added bonus.

      "If they stay those five or six years and they resign another one, then they'll get an extra $2,000 dollars so all of that's great in the deals that we're dealing with now," said Dr. Murfree.

      Some board members expressed concern about whether this was fair for the teachers who are highly qualified in subjects that aren't flagged as critical needs - but both Dyer and Dr. Murfree said those teachers are able to get certified if they want to and their concern is the benefit it will have on students.

      "More consistency in the classroom and because these teachers have to be highly qualified in order to qualify for this bonus, it will make sure we have highly qualified teachers in the classrooms impacting the achievement of our students which is what our goal is," said Dyer.

      Around $60,000 has been set aside for this program and the board hopes to vote on it by the end of this month.