As the New Hampshire Senate works through its state budget negotiations, one teacher recruitment bill remains and will be taken into consideration this week. Senate Bill (SB) 140 would provide stipends for eligible teacher candidates in student teaching programs, and works to address one of the strategies that a study committee of lawmakers recommended for recruiting high-quality teachers to New Hampshire to address the statewide teacher shortage.
If adopted, the bill would use federal COVID relief funds to provide weekly stipends to student teachers, with the goal of reducing financial barriers to completing teacher prep programs. Currently, student teachers must work in a school full-time for at least a semester, and in some programs a full year, as part of their educator preparation program. Usually the student teaching program is unpaid, and student teachers often find it difficult to work additional jobs. The stipends created by SB 140 would be available to eligible students who meet certain financial criteria.
The Senate passed the bill in March and immediately tabled it, with the intention of revisiting it during state budget negotiations. The Senate Finance Committee will take up the education portion of the state budget on Friday, May 26, and could vote to recommend adding it to the budget that day.
About teacher shortages in New Hampshire
SB 140 was one of three teacher recruitment bills brought forward this year and the only one to pass. The other bills, which would create an incentive program for teachers who work in rural and underserved areas (SB 217) and create a loan forgiveness program (HB 623), were retained in their legislative committees to give lawmakers more time to deliberate them.
The proposed programs came at the recommendation of a state commission tasked with researching teacher shortages, called the Committee to Study New Hampshire Teacher Shortages and Recruitment Incentives. The commission, a six-member legislative committee of lawmakers and the New Hampshire Department of Education (NHED), met in 2022 and found that schools around the state were struggling to fill teacher and support staff positions. In November, 2022 the committee issued four recommendations, including incentive grants and funding for the NHED to better support research needs around the issue.
New Hampshire schools are facing severe workforce shortages. . Research from Reaching Higher NH and other organizations found that lower wages and challenging school climates have contributed to the shortages. New Hampshire’s teacher salaries are lower than the national average and about $24,000 less than neighboring Massachusetts, making recruitment and retention difficult for many school districts. Teachers also make about 19% less than their non-teaching peers with college degrees, compounding already difficult hiring challenges for some districts.
A Majority of Other State Already Provide Teacher Loan Forgiveness and/or Incentives to Students Entering the Education Workforce
According to Reaching Higher NH, 26 states already provide some form of loan forgiveness and/or incentive to educators. Nearly all states that provide these programs pay for them by including their costs within the state budgets. However, the US Department of Education allows the use of federal COVID relief aid, such as the ESSER, and neighboring states to New Hampshire provide teacher loan forgiveness and Incentives.
Read more about state-run teacher recruitment and incentive programs: State-Run Teacher Loan Forgiveness Programs
The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to meet on Friday, May 26 at 11 a.m. in the State House Room 103. Watch the YouTube livestream here.
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