Detroit district flips from teacher openings to full staff the old-school way: Higher pay

June 15, 2021, 8:40 AM

It doesn't take a doctorate in education administration to solve a chronic teacher-hiring scramble, Detroit Public Schools Community District shows. A 33-percent boost in starting pay to $51,071 works wonders.

Detroit reportedly had over 1,000 applicants for 140 teaching jobs(Photo: DPSCD, last December)

"Almost every teaching post in the state's largest school district is filled for the fall more than two months before classrooms reopen," Bridge Michigan reports.

While schools across Michigan are facing a growing and potentially debilitating teacher shortage, Detroit has been able to pick and choose from more than 1,000 applicants for 140 positions so far this year. ...

Starting salary for teachers straight out of college is now ... above the average salary of teachers with five years of experience in more than half the districts in the country, said DPSCD spokesperson Chrystal Wilson.

The average first-year teacher salary in Michigan is $37,549, lower than in 40 other states.

In addition to the big bump for newcomers, Detroit "offered $3,000 in hazard pay to work during the pandemic and is now offering $15,000 annual recurring bonuses for teachers in hard-to-fill areas such as special education," reporter Ron French writes.

"The days of saying teachers do not want to work in DPSCD are over," Superintendent Nikolai Vitti tweeted last Friday. 

Fisher Magnet Upper Academy, near East 7 Mile Road, in 2018. (Photo: Twitter/Iranetta Wright)

Current teachers earning less than $51,000 will rise to that level, Vitti told the Free Press last month.

"What we're trying to do is recruit teachers with experience from mainly metro Detroit districts and charter schools," he said. "I think that's where the opportunity is highest to recruit."

Detroit benefits from a federal Covid relief formula weighted toward larger districts and those with sizable numbers of low-income students. 

Elsewhere, "school districts across Michigan are scrambling to fill vacancies, using bonuses to keep current educators in their classrooms and entice new hires," The Detroit News reports Tuesday in a subscribers-only article. "Superintendents know money is the biggest barrier to attracting talent."

Some Michigan districts can't list fall teacher openings until Lansing lawmakers and the governor adopt a school budget for 2021-22. That's supposed to happen by June 30. 

Read more:  Bridge Michigan

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