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Grant will help I-SS reward employees in high need schools
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Grant will help I-SS reward employees in high need schools

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Iredell-Statesville Schools hopes a $21.2 million competitive Department of Education grant helps the school system address students in high-need schools.

"It will allow us to reward employees in these hard-to-fill jobs," Martin Page, chair of the Iredell-Statesville Schools Board of Education, said. 

Page said that often these high-need schools are the toughest to recruit and retain teachers and staff in. The grant, however, allows I-SS to provide better pay, incentives and other forms of compensation. 

That means more tutors, more one-on-one time with students, and smaller class sizes that allow teachers and other personnel to be more effective in their roles, Page said.

Page said another benefit is the money also can be used to help teacher assistants continue their education to become certified as teachers. 

"You end up with a new teacher who already has experience in the classroom," Page said.

He said that was one of the bigger benefits of the grant as it help staffers improve their lives while also helping the school system.

Fellow board member Todd Carver agreed, saying the grant allows I-SS to address the teacher shortage it faces, one that the state and nation are dealing with as well.

"It allows us to tap into teacher assistant pool and allows us to grow our own teachers," Carver said. 

The money comes from the Department of Education’s Teacher and School Leader (TSL) Incentive Grant Program and would allow Iredell-Statesville Schools to implement the STRIVE Program (Supporting Teachers and Redesigning Incentives using Value-added measures of Effectiveness). This initiative would facilitate incentive-based compensation for teachers in high-need schools. It will be used over the next three years.

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The project will reach 12 high-need schools with free-and reduced-lunch rates over 50% affecting 5,673 students, 474 teachers, 12 principals, 16 assistant principals, four content coaches, and seven instructional facilitators.

"STRIVE will increase student academic achievement and improve equitable access to effective educators in our high-need schools by redesigning our existing Human Capital Management System and Performance-Based Compensation System to better attract, place, retain, and sustain diverse educators and improve teacher and school leader effectiveness," Boen Nutting, Chief of Strategic Planning and Student Services for I-SS, said in an email. "The grant provides performance compensation based on student growth for hard-to-staff subjects (Special Education, Secondary Mathematics, and English), meeting and exceeding evaluation standards, beginning teacher mentors, teacher leadership roles, and master teachers."

"We are very excited to begin the work of implementing this grant and are looking forward to providing incentives for our teachers and administrators. We believe that classroom teachers are invaluable, yet underpaid and look forward to the opportunity to be able to provide well-deserved compensation."

U.S. Reps. Ted Budd, R-N.C., and Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., announced Tuesday that I-SS had received the grant. Both represent parts of Iredell County.

Page said Superintendent Dr. Jeff James and other staff members should be acknowledged for their work in securing grants like this one, which allows the school system to address issues it faces and the uncertainty in its budgeting from the state.

* How will this help I-SS going forward?

STRIVE will increase student academic achievement and improve equitable access to effective educators in our high-need schools by redesigning our existing Human Capital Management System and Performance-Based Compensation System to better attract, place, retain, and sustain diverse educators and improve teacher and school leader effectiveness.

* How did the school system receive this grant money? A cross-functional team of district leaders worked with grant writers to analyze existing data, research best practices, connect with community partners, and complete a competitive grant application.

How long of a period does it cover? Three Years

The grant provides performance compensation based on student growth for hard-to-staff subjects (Special Education, Secondary Mathematics, and English), meeting and exceeding evaluation standards, beginning teacher mentors, teacher leadership roles, and master teachers.

We are very excited to begin the work of implementing this grant and are looking forward to providing incentives for our teachers and administrators. We believe that classroom teachers are invaluable, yet underpaid and look forward to the opportunity to be able to provide well-deserved compensation.

Follow Ben Gibson on Facebook and Twitter at @BenGibsonSRL

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