BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) –The East Baton Rouge School board unanimously voted to give new teachers a hire-on stipend for the upcoming school year.

The stipend is a 7,500 dollar payment throughout three years. Superintendent Dr. Sito Narcisse says only CORE teachers will receive the payment because they are the most difficult to recruit.

Narcisse says this stipend is to help recruit during a national teacher shortage and to make the school district a more competitive workplace.

“If you’re not completive with your competitors around you, you have problems,” said Narcisse.

Board member Dawn Collins opted out of the vote to show her support for current teachers.

“I do agree with the ideas of a sign on stiped, but I disagree with continually pushing off taking care of existing staff,” said Collins. “If there is COVID money for a sign on stipend of 7,500 dollars, then there is also COVID money for our current teachers and staff.”

Some teachers say a stipend for new hires, but not current staff, is a slap in the face.

“Take care of your current educators, we are tired,” said Storm Matthews, teacher. “Reward those who have been in the trenches.”

Narcisse says he is working on a stipend to give current teachers this fall and spring. With just two weeks before the first day of school, the district is looking to hire more than 200 teachers.

Schools within the parish currently have 110 vacancies for CORE teachers. CORE teachers include math, ELA, science and social studies.

“The reality is at this point, right now the priority was, let’s do the best we can to close the vaccines with school in two weeks,” he said.

Board member Dadrius Lanus also pushed for a future stipend for support staff including bus drivers and janitors.

According to the school system, the average sign on bonus in Louisiana is 2,500 dollars.

Any educators looking to reapply will have to meet a set of criteria to be eligible for the stipend.

Narcisse says he will pitch two bonuses for current teachers at the August board meeting.

“It should have been on the agenda tonight, before we started talking about a $7,500 stipend for people who are not part of our system yet,” said Collins. “We need to reward people who have stuck with us through all the chaos and commotion of this past school year.”