Legislators planning to revive the Teaching Fellows program by giving forgivable loans to people planning teaching careers want to use money from an endowment fund created in 2014.
The Senate Education/Higher Education Committee discussed a new version of the Teaching Fellows bill Tuesday that included the money source.
A group of House and Senate members have proposed reviving and restructuring N.C. Teaching Fellows – creating a program that would offer about 160 people who want to be teachers up to $8,250 a year in forgivable loans if they agree to teach science, math, engineering, or technology, or become special education teachers. The program is designed to encourage loan recipients to work in low-performing schools.
Lt. Gov. Dan Forest pushed the creation of the N.C. Education Endowment Fund. It can collect donations from income tax check-offs, revenue from the purchase of specialty license plates, individual donations, and state appropriations. It was meant to supplement pay for high-performing teachers, but it hasn’t been used.
The fund has about $6 million in it, said Sen. Chad Barefoot, a Wake Republican and one of the bill’s sponsors. Most of the money, $5 million, came from the state budget.
Forest endorsed using the endowment fund for Teaching Fellows.
A new commission would choose the five teacher education programs in the state that would participate.
Sen. Erica Smith-Ingram, a Northampton County Democrat, sought assurances that the commission would consider geographic diversity when choosing the teacher education programs.
Barefoot said it would be up to the commission to pick the five best. Planners want to “create the most elite, distinguished program possible,” he said.
The legislature ended the old Teaching Fellows scholarship program. The last class of 500 graduated in 2015.