Incentives, Bonuses Help Baltimore County Cut Special Education Teacher Vacancies In Half


In 2022, the Maryland State Department of Education described special education as a "critical shortage area" for Baltimore County. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

BALTIMORE COUNTY - Baltimore County Public Schools has successfully halved its special education teacher vacancy rate, dropping from 80 vacancies in 2022/2023 to only 43 this year, according to the Maryland Association of Counties (MACO).

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) recognized the dire need for more special education teachers in Baltimore County, labeling it a "critical shortage area" in their 2022 report. According to the report, Baltimore County caters to Maryland's second-largest special education demographic, representing about 14.2 percent of the state's total.

To address this challenge, MSDE rolled out the "Grow Your Own" program, aiming to aid schools in hiring educators and support staff. This program emphasizes the need for Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI), and other Special Education Teachers.

Baltimore County has also taken proactive measures to hire and retain special education teachers for the 2023-2024 school year. New hires in the program receive a welcoming $2,000 hiring bonus and are further incentivized with another $2,000 bonus at the culmination of the 2024 academic year. Recognizing the versatility and skill set of dually certified teachers, those transitioning into special education roles by the end of the academic year are eligible for a generous $4,000 bonus.

Allison Myers, Executive Director of Special Education for the county, expressed BCPS's commitment to these teachers in a statement to The Baltimore Sun.

"There's a lot of things that are put in place to be able to support special educators with knowing that they're valued. That is also something that we're really focused on, the value of their work, and I think that's really helped with regards to retention and recruitment," Myers said.

According to MACO, Baltimore County is not stopping here. Collaborative efforts with local colleges allow educators to enroll in degree programs, with the promise of tuition reimbursement for those pursuing special education roles.

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