Assemblymember Rudy Salas recently introduced AB 2489, which will provide $50 million in grant funds to teachers who work at and live near underserved and understaffed schools.
The grant intends to supplement teachers' salaries who agree to live within the boundaries of the priority school they teach at for five years. Eligible priority schools are K-12 schools with 50 percent or more of their student population eligible for free or reduced-priced meals.
According to a news release by Salas, ensuring schools are adequately staffed with teachers who live in the community establishes a stronger connection between teachers and students, creating a more productive learning experience.
"This bill is important because if we can foster more positive interaction with students and teachers, students' test outcomes increase. By allocating more money for teachers to work and live within the boundaries of an underserved school with high populations of students from low-income families, we know that their test scores will improve. In addition, it is a bonus pay on top of their salaries for those teachers," said Salas.
Salas said with the state's historic budget surplus of $46.7 billion, the state needs to invest more in teachers and students.
"Providing incentives to develop neighborhood teachers that live in the same school district as their students will result in better outcomes for our kids," said Salas. "This bill is an innovative approach to recruit and retain our best and brightest educators in struggling school districts."
"I would like teachers to know that we are out here fighting for them, that we are trying to come up with creative ways to increase not only their salaries but also to improve student test scores. It is my goal with the passage of this bill that teachers take full advantage of the program," he shared.
Salas said the bill would particularly benefit cities like Wasco.
"This bill will not only help incentivize teachers, but it is also particularly beneficial when you look at schools like those in Wasco, where 80 percent of students qualify for free and reduced-price meals," said Salas. "It also speaks to the fact that four out of every five districts in California are impacted by teacher shortages, and this bill is a unique, community-based approach to addressing that problem."
Salas encouraged residents to support the bill.
"My hope is that everyone sees the merits in this and wants to support our teachers, schools, and our students. We need letters from community members, school districts, school boards, and teachers to say that this is something that will help student outcomes while also supporting our teachers," said Salas. "I welcome the community to join us in this journey so that we can improve our student test scores and empower our teachers at the same time. I think all of our local schools can greatly benefit from this bill."
Letters of support can be sent to State Capitol, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0032.