Huntsville City Schools approve stipend for 7th-12th grade STEM specialists

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Huntsville City Schools are paving, or better yet paying the way, for qualified math and science teachers to become highly skilled specialists.  At Thursday night’s school board meeting the district moved forward with a 7th-12th grade math and science specialist talent management plan.

At the core of Huntsville’s industry and future you will find the STEM subjects. As a result, Huntsville City Schools are investing in a yearly stipend to 7th through 12th grade science and math teachers. According to Huntsville City School’s Superintendent, Dr. Casey Wardynski, there are two main goals. “Bringing in the best math and science teachers in the state,” Wardynski explained to the school board. “Then developing them and retaining them.”

Here’s how it works.  Math and science teachers who are currently in the classroom are considered specialists and will receive an incentive at the end this school year.

“We want our state teachers to be in rigorous programs,” shared Wardynski. “Where they are learning and the school system will pay for it.”

Meaning, in order to keep that raise, teachers will go back to college and take competitive math and science courses from local colleges. The board has been working with UAH to establish the courses and they plan to work with a number of other local colleges. These classes will be tailored to certain classes and programs needed in the school system.

“Mathematicians, it’s probably going to be six credits,” explained Wardynski. “And science, it’ll probably be seven and we budget for those over a three-year period.”

That budget averages out to be $1,300 a year per teacher.

This incentive includes English and History for Huntsville City School’s five Title One facilities: Johnson High School, Lee High School, McNair Jr. High, Westlawn Middle, and Chapman School.

“If you don’t complete the courses in a three-year period you are no longer a specialist,” explained Wardynski. “And then you lose eligibility until you do navigate those two courses.”

The yearly budget for the project is $1.5 million, but this year only half of that will be used since the incentive will cover half the school year.  Teachers must stay with the one school for the entire year in order to retain the substantial raise. According to Wardynski, the long-term goal is to one day include all subjects in all schools, providing an abundance of highly skilled teachers for our Huntsville students.

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