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With high schools facing closure, Indianapolis Public Schools teachers could get $5,000 to stay for the year

Algebra teacher Jessica Edwards helps students  with math problems during her 9th grade algebra class  at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, Colorado.
Algebra teacher Jessica Edwards helps students with math problems during her 9th grade algebra class at Smoky Hill High School in Aurora, Colorado.
Helen H. Richardson, Denver Post

Indianapolis Public Schools may pay teachers loyalty bonuses of up to $5,000 in a bid to keep educators from leaving this year as the district plans high school closings.

The one-time bonuses for high school teachers would be paid at the end of the 2017-2018 school year. Teachers who were hired before the start of the 2016-2017 school year would be eligible to receive $5,000. Teachers hired more recently would be eligible for $2,500.

District leaders released a plan earlier this summer to close three high schools and consolidate students into four remaining campuses at the end of the 2017-2018. The school board is expected to vote on the plan in September.

As Chalkbeat reported last week, the move could displace hundreds of high school teachers. But administrators say IPS will still need about the same number of teachers across the district once they consolidate high schools.

Education advocates worry, however, that the specter of high school closings could cause an exodus of educators this year. The loyalty bonuses are designed to stop that from happening.

“Reinvented high schools for the 2018-19 school year should not yield a compromised high school experience this current school year,” Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said in a statement. “This retention incentive underscores how much we value our teachers and stability for our students and families.”

The deal for bonuses was negotiated between Ferebee’s administration and the Indianapolis Education Association.

“IEA was looking at how the district could give our students’ stability during this time of uncertainty for our high school teachers,” union president Rhondalyn Cornett said in a statement. “Our hope is that teachers will feel more confident in the district during this transition and help ensure the reinvention of our high schools is a success.”

To be eligible for the bonuses teachers must:

  • Receive an effective or highly effective evaluation for the 2017-18 school year
  • Be at work and perform their regularly assigned duties at least 93% of the school year
  • Have worked at least 90 contract days

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