Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. launches new tuition reimbursement programs aimed at increasing its supply of certified teachers.
The school corporation announced two new initiatives to help bachelor’s degree holders complete transition-to-teaching programs.
One, known as the “Transition to Teaching Pathway Paraeducators” initiative, is aimed at BCSC support staff and community members. The other – known as the “Transition to Teaching Reimbursement Program” – is for BCSC teachers currently working on short-term permits.
Virtual information sessions on the paraeducator program were held on Monday and will be held again on Wednesday. An RSVP form is available at bcscschools.org or bit.ly/bcscteacherpathway.
Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources Gina Pleak said as of Thursday the school corporation had about 20 teaching positions open.
The paraeducator program is for people who want to become teachers.
“A classified staff member with a bachelor’s degree may apply to BCSC for payment for an online transition-to-teaching program through St. Mary’s of the Woods College,” the school society said. “BCSC will pay tuition, fees and books starting this fall.”
The initiative is also open to members of the community with a bachelor’s degree. Those accepted into the program will work as teaching assistants and will be paid in Grade 16 on the Classified Personnel Pay Matrix, which has a starting salary of $19.81 per hour.
Those who complete the program are guaranteed a teaching job upon completion as long as they are in good standing as employees. They must also commit to teaching for at least two years.
The pathway is a variation of the BCSC’s “Pathway to Teacher Licensure” program, which was launched last year.
“It’s related to that, but it’s not exactly the same thing,” Pleak said. “…Last time, we were looking for a group of people who wanted to work with students, who had never been to college and wanted to get that degree. And that’s a four-year commitment on our part.
The first cohort, made up of seven people, begins its second year this fall.
Paraeducators in the Pathway to Teacher Licensure program work as teaching assistants while earning their Bachelor of Education from St. Mary-of-the Woods via online learning. The school corporation covers tuition and textbook costs, provided that participants maintain a certain GPA, “meet support staff assessment goals,” and stay with the school corporation until they graduate. ended.
After graduating and receiving their license, participants will be guaranteed a teaching position and must commit to staying at the BCSC for two years.
The program was designed for people who hadn’t earned college credits, but applicants with post-secondary education — or even a bachelor’s degree — were also eligible to apply.
The new transition to the teaching path, on the other hand, is for people who already have a bachelor’s degree, Pleak said. Completing a transition to teaching program is also a faster process; it takes about a year and a half.
In addition to the new twist on the paraeducator path, the BCSC has also created a new “Transition to Teaching Teacher Reimbursement Program”.
According to school officials, there has been an increase in the number of community members leaving their previous careers to become teachers.
“It’s for BCSC teachers who are currently teaching for us, and it’s for those who have an emergency permit or a transition-to-teach permit,” Pleak said. “…They might have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, and we hired them, say, as a science teacher.”
She explained that transition-to-teaching permits are valid for three years, as long as the holder is enrolled in a transition-to-teaching program approved by the Indiana Department of Education and working at the graduation. Emergency permits, on the other hand, are only valid for one year and the holder must “progress” to obtain their full credentials.
The new school corporation reimbursement program aims to make it more financially viable for BCSC teachers to complete bridging programs and obtain full licensure.
Teachers must apply each semester to be considered for the reimbursement program and be enrolled in the transition to teaching program approved by the Ministry of Education. Those who are accepted and maintain acceptable grades will receive reimbursement for up to six credits per semester during the 2022-23 school year, associated course fees, and Praxis test fees (if successful, with up to two attempts allowed).
Participants must teach at the BCSC for two years after their courses. Those who do not must reimburse the school corporation a prorated amount.
It will take teachers about a year to a year and a half to complete the program, Pleak said. The school corporation will pilot it for the 2022-23 school year and see if it achieves a positive result in terms of more teachers with the appropriate license.
She estimated BCSC has 35 to 40 teachers transitioning to teaching or on emergency licenses, out of about 760 teachers in total.
“It’s absolutely necessary to get them the proper licensure,” she said. “And so when I’ve talked to teachers in the last year of classes and stuff, it’s been a financial barrier for them. For one thing, they work full time. They are probably new to the career, so they learn all the requirements of the profession, the expectations. They want to make a difference in the lives of children. They want to have a work-life balance. And now there is this financial demand.
Another reason for the new transition to education programs, Pleak said, is that the BCSC is trying to make the most of its Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds for recruitment and retention.
She was unable to give an estimate of how much ESSER funding would go to the two programs and said she would know more once she had a better idea of interest, number of good applicants and what makes sense from a budgetary point of view. She also noted that the Indiana Department of Education announced a grant opportunity for “build your own” programs.
As of Friday, there were more than 2,375 teaching vacancies listed on the Department for Education’s online job bank.
When asked if the BCSC would consider offering more four-year cohorts for paraeducators seeking a bachelor’s degree, Pleak said they were looking forward to that.
“ESSER funds are limited,” she said. “…You hear, statewide right now, like 2,300 openings, teacher openings. Or 2,400; I don’t know what it is now. So I think our state and federal level are all looking at the profession and seeing what opportunities exist to “grow your own opportunities.”
She expects more grants to emerge as a result.