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1 year ago

New Orleans public schools will spend $4 million per year on teacher recruitment, special programs

The Orleans Parish School Board has approved NOLA Public Schools Superintendent Avis Williams' plan to continue funneling about $4 million a year to teacher retention and training and specialized programs.

The funds are part of the school district's "System Wide Needs Program," which was created by the state Legislature in 2019. Every three years the superintendent is tasked with creating a new spending plan for the program, and the one just approved will run from July 2023 to June 2026.

The latest plan will take effect as New Orleans public schools grapple with anticipated declines in enrollment and a drying teacher pipeline. Next year, schools will be without federal ESSER funds for the first time since the pandemic, furthering financial strain on schools, particularly those struggling with enrollment declines.

The district will not have spent all of the funding from the first round when it begins round two, Kelli Jordan, Chief School Support and Improvement Officer of NOLA Public Schools told OPSB at the February board meeting. They will have approximately $7.3 million, in addition to $4 million per year.

What's the plan?

The first tier of funding will go toward growing the teacher pipeline, with $7 million over three years to support federally funded programs that recruit, train and place teachers in classrooms and high schoolers in teacher-training programs

The goal is to have 750 hires over the next three years.

The first round of funding supported several local initiatives that train teachers. This round will focus more on drawing talent such as paraprofessionals. 

According to the education nonprofit group New Schools for New Orleans, the current round of funding resulted in around 430 new teachers being hired in New Orleans.

Last year, Tulane University, New Schools for New Orleans and other educational organizations received a $10 million grant to recruit, certify and place 552 teachers in underserved schools by 2025, and to support 200 high schoolers in teacher-training programs.

Without the systemwide needs funding, some teacher programs would likely not survive, New Schools for New Orleans said.

Specialized programs

The second tier of spending will go toward specialized programs for students. The district will invest $10 million over the next three years in partnerships that will provide an alternative school for middle school students — currently The Bridge run by Educators for Quality Alternatives — and programs targeting specific student populations.

Those include more access to mental health and attendance supports and services for English Learners and students with autism. It will also fund programs that provide career and technical training for students.

Funding may also be used to train at least 20 teachers in areas including English learner instruction, social-work services and trauma-informed practices and crisis supports.

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