JEFFERSON CITY - Republican gubernatorial candidate Kenny Hulshof proposed Wednesday to pay $15,000 bonuses to new math and science teachers as a way of enticing more people to enter those fields.
Hulshof's plan sets a goal of getting 1,500 new teachers into Missouri math and science classrooms over five years by paying them a gradually increasing annual bonus.
The math plan would work like this:
• First-year math and science teachers would get a $2,000 bonus.
• For each additional year they teach, their bonus would grow by $500.
• By the fifth and final year of the program, their annual bonus would be $4,000.
• Over five years, that's a total bonus of $15,000 per teacher.
Hulshof, Missouri's 9th District congressman, said his plan would start with 300 teachers in the first year and add 300 more teachers to the program each year thereafter.
The teacher bonuses are part of a work force development plan that also includes more spending for online college courses and for specially tailored job-training programs.
Hulshof's Democratic gubernatorial opponent, Attorney General Jay Nixon, previously outlined an education and work force development plan. Nixon's plan would offer students who get good grades and perform community service the chance to get four free years of higher education, so long as they start at a community college before moving on to a university.
Hulshof describes his own proposal as building upon a 2007 law sponsored by Democratic state Sen. Jeff Smith, of St. Louis, which offers up to $21,000 over five years to new teachers who go to work in unaccredited districts, such as the St. Louis School District.
Although Hulshof's plan would reserve 150 subsidized math and science slots for such districts, the rest of the bonuses could go to teachers anywhere in the state.
Missouri officials have sought for several years to place a greater emphasis on math and science, with an eye toward building a work force for technology-based businesses.
Gov. Matt Blunt organized a summit on the subject in April 2006 and subsequently appointed a panel that recommended ways of getting more youths interested in careers in the math and science fields.
Earlier this year, a House committee endorsed a bill that would have offered a $5,000 bonus to math and science teachers hired by school districts that lack full state accreditation or are financially poor because low property values have held down their tax revenues. But that plan, which was part of a larger package intended to boost teacher salaries, never cleared the House.
Hulshof spokesman Scott Baker said his proposed enticements for math and science teachers would cost $4.5 million annually when fully implemented. Nixon estimates his "Missouri Promise" plan would cost $61 million annually.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate also proposed Wednesday to spend $3 million annually to help higher education institutions develop online courses in every career field they serve. Hulshof said some students are unable to take classes in their desired subject areas through community colleges or technical schools because they live too far away.