Committee proposes school incentive grants and teacher stipends to address ongoing educator shortages

Members of the Committee to Study New Hampshire Teacher Shortages and Recruitment Incentives meet at the State House in November. Photo by Kayla Provencher.

A legislative committee is expected to propose four policy recommendations to help strengthen and diversify New Hampshire’s teacher workforce. The Committee to Study New Hampshire Teacher Shortages and Recruitment Incentives will recommend:

  • Funding a new role in the NH Department of Education (NHED) to support ongoing research and data needs;
  • Creating an incentive grant for school districts to experiment with recruitment and incentive strategies;
  • Creating an incentive grant to support racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students; and,
  • Creating stipends to incentivize new teachers to stay in the state.

The recommendations are expected to be introduced during the 2023 legislative session, which begins in January. 

The Committee, chaired by Senator Jay Kahn (D-Keene) until December, includes Senator Ruth Ward (R-Stoddard) and Representatives Oliver Ford (R-Chester), Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill), and Mel Myler (D-Contoocook), and Steve Appleby, Division of Educator Support and Higher Education at the NHED. 

Watch a recording of the Committee to Study New Hampshire Teacher Shortages and Recruitment Incentives here:

Four recommendations

By the end of Tuesday’s meeting, the Committee voted to put forward four policy recommendations:

Recommendation 1: Funding a new role in the NHED to support ongoing research

The Committee recommended funding a new research analyst role within the NHED to support ongoing research and data needs. The position would support research on information and trends on teacher employment to allow for a better understanding of where educator shortages exist within the state and how schools are dealing with those shortages. 

Committee members agreed that the state should: 

  • Make sure the department has the technology needed to fulfill data requests. The current data portal is outdated, so the committee is recommending that the state fund necessary technology and infrastructure upgrades. 
  • Task the NHED with studying other states’ approaches to addressing educator shortages and staffing needs. 
  • Gather information about teacher preparatory programs in higher education. The Committee underscored the importance of having more robust information about the opportunities and challenges that higher education institutions are facing around their programs and in creating a strong and stable supply of teachers.. 
  • Quantifying the cost of these tasks to the state. The Committee tasked the NHED with figuring out the staffing and resources necessary to fulfill these requests.

Recommendation 2: Creating incentive grants for school districts to target areas of need

The Committee recommended a five-year grant initiative to allow local school districts to implement new and innovative recruitment and incentive strategies addressing teacher shortages. The grants would be focused on five specific areas:

  • Historically understaffed teacher shortage areas (math, science, and special education)
  • Improving student outcomes 
  • Rural areas where there are chronic shortages
  • Districts with racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse student bodies 
  • Districts with high proportions of students navigating poverty 

Recommendation 3: Establishing a grant program that targets improving gaps in supporting racially, ethnically, and linguistically diverse students 

The Committee recommended establishing an incentive grant for districts that hire a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice (DEIJ) Director, with the goal of supporting a welcoming and safe learning environment for students and staff, removing barriers to learning for students of color and multilingual students, and attracting and retaining more teachers of color. 

The incentive grant would help to fund those positions in school districts, and would partially subsidize the Director’s salary for three years. 

Recommendation 4: Incentivizing young teachers to remain in New Hampshire through a stipend program 

The Committee recommended creating a stipend program for New Hampshire graduates that work in a critical shortage area in a New Hampshire school.

New Hampshire teacher pay lags behind other states

One of the key themes that came from the Committee’s work is the importance of fair and competitive teacher pay in ensuring a robust, strong workforce. 

“Effective, well-qualified teachers are really one of the most important resources that schools have,” RHNH Policy Director Christina Pretorius told the Committee during one of their September meetings. “Fair, competitive compensation is really a critical piece in ensuring we have a strong and vigorous workforce.” 

New Hampshire’s teacher salaries are lower than the national average and about $24,000 less than in neighboring Massachusetts, making recruitment and retention difficult for many school districts. And they make about 19% less than their non-teaching peers with college degrees, compounding already difficult hiring challenges for some districts.

The main strategies that the Committee considered to address these challenges were through incentive programs that would allow districts to come up with solutions such as increasing the minimum starting salary for teachers, considering bonuses, or implementing other locally-developed programs. 

Learn more about RHNH’s research on teacher pay here: Fair and competitive pay is critical to a strong teaching workforce, but NH lags behind neighboring states.

About the Committee

The Committee to Study New Hampshire Teacher Shortages and Recruitment Incentives was created during the 2022 legislative session in response to reports that schools around the state were struggling to fill teacher and support staff positions. The group is tasked with examining the current state of the educator workforce and identifying strategies for recruiting and retaining teachers of color and educators to work in rural and underserved school districts.

Since August, the Committee has met six times and heard a variety of perspectives, including input from the state’s three diversity coordinators, representatives from the Retirement System of New Hampshire, superintendents, CTE directors, and representatives from state higher education institutions. 

The Committee will officially disband in November 2023, but its makeup will change next year. Senator Kahn, the current Committee Chair, is leaving the Senate, and the makeup of the Committee may change as new lawmakers begin their terms. 

It is unclear who will sponsor legislation that includes the recommendations in Senator Kahn’s absence, but other lawmakers may file them in separate bills. So far, one bill is expected to be proposed regarding teacher loan forgiveness in 2023, sponsored by Representative Myler. 

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