BG FHS Opens - AE

Frederick High School English teacher Connie Antosca talks with English I students as the sun shines into one of the new classrooms.

In an effort to increase teacher recruitment, the Frederick County Board of Education is moving forward with developing a teacher apprenticeship program.

With an ongoing nationwide teacher shortage, the school board recognizes the need to recruit more teachers to Frederick County. Board member Ken Kerr wants to bring on teacher apprentices starting from their freshman year in college to work as instructional assistants.

The apprentices would be paid and have full benefits through all four years of college. At the beginning of the third year, the apprentice would sign a binding agreement that he or she would remain with Frederick County Public Schools for five years. If the student breaks the agreement by voluntarily leaving before the five years is up, then he or she would have to repay some of the investment from the school system.

Meeting that five-year threshold has been a challenge for FCPS. In 2015-2016, more than half of the more than 120 teachers who left the district had less than five years of experience. Every teacher who leaves costs the school system about $2,000 to replace, Kerr said. He hopes to develop a pipeline of teachers trained in Frederick County who will stay longer.

Under Kerr’s plan, which is likely to be revised based on what partnerships the school system can work out with colleges and universities, all apprentices would start as an instructional aid in their freshman year of college. Each student would work 35 hours a week — 20 as the apprentice and 15 as a student — and be paid $12 an hour as a freshman.

Under the agreement, students would have to seek out any grant or scholarship opportunities for which they qualify.

Because the school system would cover the apprentice’s salary, benefits and tuition, the first year would cost around $29,000 to $33,000. Each year, the student would get a raise of 50 cents per hour. Over the four years the apprentice is in school, the school system would pay $125,000 per student.

But those costs, Kerr argued, could be less than the school system spends on an instructional aid.

An instructional aid who works for four years in FCPS requires an investment of slightly more than $123,000. Kerr’s four-year plan with an apprentice requires an investment of about $121,500.

The school system would get added security of a five-year commitment from each apprentice. Kerr also believes the school system would be a leader in modernizing teacher preparation and certification.

Board President Brad Young said he liked the idea because it connects students from Frederick County to teaching jobs in Frederick County. Young said he has met several former students who haven’t been hired by the school system even though they wanted to work in the county.

Kerr also wanted to include incentives, such as a possible stipend, for master teachers who oversee the apprentice.

The plan proposed rolling out the program in cohorts of five students.

The board was overwhelmingly supportive of the idea, but had some questions and concerns regarding how to move forward, and whether it would be amenable to the district’s budget.

The program, even if approved, likely would not be ready for this year’s graduating seniors, which is a good thing, student member Will Anderson said.

“Don’t try to fast-track it for my class,” Anderson said. “Because we’re making those decisions about what we’re going to do right now.”

Follow Allen Etzler on Twitter: @AllenWEtzler.

(4) comments


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Great plan, but . . . typically, an undergrad education major is already swamped with classes during the school day and requirements from MSDE that he/she start in schools during the junior year. When would the students satisfy graduation requirements?


This is a good idea, BUT the main problem is the salary scale for Frederick Co teachers. One of the lowest paid, in the State. If you really want to retain teachers, bring their salaries up to a competitive level.

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