SCPS, FCPS benefit from Recruitment Incentive for Public Education grant

Published 1:00 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2022

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Local school systems are benefitting from the Recruitment Incentive for Public Education grant, as the Virginia Department of Education announced April 15 that Southampton County Public Schools has been allocated $175,000 and Franklin City Public Schools has been allocated $30,000.

In Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. James F. Lane’s memo #227-21, he noted that the 2021 Special Session II of the General Assembly appropriated funding to support recruitment efforts for school divisions hiring to fill instructional positions between Aug. 15, 2021, and Nov. 15, 2021. 

“School divisions interested in this funding must submit data to the Virginia Department of Education via the Recruitment Incentive for Public Education (RIPE) application on the Single Sign-on for Web Systems (SSWS) portal,” Lane stated. “The submitted application should include the number of hard-to-staff vacancies defined by the Critical Teaching Shortage Areas list and non-hard-to-staff vacancies for the 2021-2022 school year by school.”

He noted that priority for distribution of these incentives shall be to school divisions experiencing the most acute difficulties in recruiting qualified teachers, defined for this initiative as the overall free and reduced lunch rate of 40% or greater on the 2020-21 Free and Reduced Lunch Eligibility Report.

The national school lunch program did not operate during the 2020-21 school year, resulting in no free and reduced eligibility data, Lane added, stating that the RIPE application would use the 2019-20 free and reduced eligibility data as proxy data for the 2021-22 school year.

The terms of the grant outline what constitutes a teacher eligible for RIPE money.

The terms state that eligible teachers must be hired to fill a reported vacancy in an instructional position in a Virginia public school division between Aug. 15, 2021, and Nov. 15, 2021. Individuals who are employed by a local school division in Virginia as of July 1, 2021, who accept an otherwise qualifying position in another local school division are not eligible for this incentive. Individuals employed by a local school division as of July 1, 2021, who transfer from a non-hard-to-staff school to a hard-to-staff school within the same division, are eligible for this incentive. 

Continuing, the terms note that an eligible teacher will receive a $2,500 incentive award for filling a non-hard-to-staff position or an incentive award of $5,000 for a hard-to-staff position. School divisions will provide half of the incentive payment to the individual no earlier than January 1, 2022, and provide the balance of the full amount to the individual no earlier than May 1, 2022, provided the individual receives a satisfactory performance evaluation and provides a written commitment to return to the same school for the 2022-23 school year.

Dr. Dwana White, FCPS assistant superintendent of human resources, confirmed that six FCPS  faculty members will qualify to benefit from the grant.

She said that two factors determined the $30,000 amount that the school division received.

Tamara Sterling

First, it was based on the number of people hired from Aug. 15 through Nov. 15, 2021. In that time, FCPS hired seven people. The second factor was if the person was hired for a hard-to-staff position and/or school. 

White noted that there was $5,000 per person in the FCPS division. One dropped out, so that brought the total to $30,000.

FCPS Superintendent Dr. Tamara Sterling described the incoming RIPE money as an “attractive incentive.”

“The grant has allowed FCPS to recruit certified teachers in hard-to-staff areas such as science, mathematics, special education, middle and elementary education,” she said. “The national teacher shortage has made it difficult to hire certified teachers. However, this grant gives us an attractive incentive to recruit and retain the best-qualified teachers for Franklin City Public Schools.”

SCPS officials had not responded by press time to a request for comment on the division’s $175,000 RIPE allocation.