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Grants to pay higher-qualified teachers likely to go unused by FUHSD

Because it has been classified as a low-performing school district, Fallbrook Union High School District (FUHSD) has been given the opportunity to receive grant funding if they hire highly qualified teachers that meet the standard of a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT).

According to FUHSD Superintendent Dale Mitchell, it is unlikely that the district will be able to take advantage of the grants because there are currently no teachers on staff who meet the criteria and the likelihood of adding or replacing any teaching positions for the 2009-2010 school year looks slim.

In order to be able to encourage some of California’s most highly qualified teachers to work in low-performing school districts, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell announced on December 1 that 134 grantees will share nearly $3.9 million in National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) Incentive Awards.

The NBPTS Incentive Award program provides funding to high-priority schools that have a rank of five or lower on the Academic Performance Index, California’s state accountability model, to qualify for a one-time $20,000 award that would be paid in $5,000 annual installments for National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs).

NBCTs are teachers who have voluntarily met rigorous criteria through intensive study, expert evaluation, self-assessment and peer review to become National Board Certified. The prestigious NBPTS designation certifies that the educator has successfully demonstrated advanced teaching knowledge, skills and practices.

In order to be eligible for the grant, the NBCTs must agree to teach at least 50 percent of a full-time position in high-priority schools for four consecutive years or be assigned to teach at the school in a leadership role, such as peer coach or other teacher support provider, as long as the position does not require an administrative credential.

FUHSD was one of the districts that was offered the grant.

Mitchell said the district has no teachers who are qualified NBCTs teaching for the 2008-2009 academic year and may not have any open teaching positions to be able to hire a NBCT for the 2009-2010 academic year.

Mitchell went on to say it was uncertain to see if the incentive program would be continued for the next year.

“With the economic climate at the state level, it will be difficult to see what opportunities we will have available next year,” said Mitchell. “At this point, though, it may be too early to even know if there will even be any teaching vacancies.”

“I am concerned that in the current fiscal budget crisis, continued funding for this vital program may be in jeopardy,” added O’Connell in a press release. “As the Governor and the state Legislature work toward solutions to address this, I urge them to recognize that funding for public education programs is in the state’s best interest and to raise the revenue necessary to maintain high quality and access to education for all students.”

Even if the incentive program is discontinued, Mitchell believes FUHSD has many draws for NBCTs to come and teach in the district as opportunities open, with “a reputation for excellent academic programs and students who are successful in academics and co-curricular programs.”

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