Paterson School District offers sign-on bonuses in effort to fill teacher shortage

Students are back in the classroom, but some school districts are still finding it difficult to find teachers.
School administrators in Paterson are hoping that extra monetary incentives will help fill the gap. The district will now be allowed to use signing bonuses to lure teachers.
“We are hoping to attract some teachers that ultimately are looking to switch from their current locations,” says Assistant Superintendent Louis Rojas.
New teachers will get $7,500 to enter the district as long as they commit to working in Paterson for two years.
“You get half the money Year 1, and you get the second half Year 2,” Rojas says.
Rojas says the Board of Education approved the use of grant money and general funds for the bonuses.
There are 135 open teacher positions, down from 240 before the school year started. Officials say that with the help of two full-time recruiters, job fairs and word of mouth, the district has been chipping away at the openings.
"We are getting candidates, but we are getting resignations at the same time, so it's fluid. Folks do come in but they're going out the back door,” says Rojas.
The bonuses are already being posted on the district's Instagram account. Paterson is following the lead of Newark which raised its starting salary and is offering bonuses of $4,000.
The Paterson Teachers Union has yet to respond publicly. But on the first day of the school year, many current teachers protested low salaries along with not having a new contract.
Rojas says that he hopes the new strategy will work to keep the classrooms full so that current teachers and substitutes are not relied on to fill openings.
"I think once they come on board for two years, you're going to love this place,” he says.
Anyone interested in a job with the Paterson School District should check out the district’s website and upcoming job fairs.