Best teachers given incentives to work in lowest-performing schools

By Ashley Harding - Reporter
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A big bonus is on the way for more than 150 of Duval County's highest-performing teachers and principals. That is, if they commit to work at least three years in some of the county's lowest-performing schools.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti announced the incentive program Thursday.

Teachers could make as much as $20,000 more a year under the incentive. The teachers are some of the highest-ranking in the district, and they're working in 36 of the district's most challenging schools.

Vitti said the program is among the first of its kind in the nation. He said the goal is to keep the best educators where they're needed most.

"There are gaps that exist in our society that need to be filled," Vitti said. "So looking at that data, we recognize that there are already great teachers in these 36 schools. We have to do a better job of keeping them and retaining them here so they don't go to more suburban-like schools or they leave education or go into leadership; they stay here."

That's not all there is to the program. It's also about recruiting great teachers from outside of the lower-ranking schools.

Vitti said the district is also looking to bring in 57 high-ranking teachers. If they do, they could see a $17,000 boost.

Additionally, Vitti said great principals need to be recognized for turning around some of these schools. They, too, could be eligible for a $20,000 bonus.

There were moments when Terrie Brady, the current president of Duval Teachers United, became emotional when talking about these teachers and what they do for their students.

"They're there early in the morning; they're there late at night; they're there through a lot of turmoil; they're there through a lot of angst because of one thing -- they believe in their children," Brady said.

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