Want a career change? DeKalb County schools will pay you and train you to become a teacher

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 Jon Shirek

DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — DeKalb County School Board members approved a plan Monday night to recruit and train people looking to make a career change and become teachers — a way for the school district to fill teacher vacancies.

By its count, DeKalb County School District claims the highest number of teacher vacancies in metro Atlanta—183 vacancies as of mid-October, two months into the school year. That amounts to 3% of the total number of teachers the county needs.

The board voted six to one to enter into four separate contracts with firms that would recruit and train people who want to become public school teachers, including paraprofessionals already working in the schools and others working in careers outside of education.

Recruits must go through a teacher resident program, which consists of on-the-job training that could last a year or two, according to the district. Following program completion, teachers will commit to teaching in the district for five years.

Getting the program off the ground will cost taxpayers $3.2 million, which the superintendent, Dr. Devon Horton, calls an investment.

“Hey, where else can you get a salary for a year, get trained by the best, and also pay for your Master’s and get it in a year,” Horton asked reporters after the vote. “It’s the best deal in metro Atlanta.”

But the president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers, Verdaillia Turner, said the school district should use that money to raise teacher pay, help students who have discipline problems and create incentives to prevent teachers from quitting their jobs and careers.

“Until we actually address some of the systemic reasons why we have so many people not coming into the teaching profession, then we will continue to lose teachers,” Turner said.

The new DeKalb County program is set to begin in January 2024, and the district said it plans for the first batch of trainees to be qualified to start classroom teaching a year later.

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