SEFFNER, Fla. — This year experienced educators in Hillsborough County are getting paid extra cash to teach at underperforming schools.

  • Teachers who transfer to D-rated school get pay raise
  • Initiative a part of the school's Spark Program
  • 9 teachers transfered to McDonald Elementary 
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At McDonald Elementary in Seffner, nine teachers transferred to the D-rated school this year.

Those teachers could receive up to $13,000 a year for making the move to the Achievement School. It's part of the school's Spark program.

While the money was an incentive, longtime teacher Lowell Patterson said he is also looking for a new challenge and to help those who need it most.

"You set the culture," Patterson said. "This is the way it's going to be. We're not going to accept you thinking that you don't deserve or you shouldn't have. You deserve and you should have."

"I don't think the teaching is going to be any different," said Carrie Kovalovich, who transferred with Patterson from the A-rated Bevis Elementary in Lithia.  "It's just meeting the kids where they are, when they come in."

McDonald Elementary has long struggled to recruit teachers. Principal Melanie Cochrane saw that firsthand after transferring to the school. She had 13 vacancies last school year. 

"I would have people who sent me their resumes and I would call to set them up for an interview and they were like, 'nevermind, you're not at the other school anymore. I don't want to be at that school,'" Cochrane explained. "That's just disheartening."

With help from the Spark program, Cochrane said she has filled all her vacancies this school year. 

The district's Assistant Superintendent Tricia McManus said getting experienced teachers will help to boost school grades at underperforming Achievement Schools. 

"If all of this works as planned, by the end of the school year all of the schools will be A, B, and C-rated schools," McManus said. "That is the ultimate goal."

McDonald Elementary has already made big progress. The school was a few points away from getting a "C" last school year.

The principal believes the new teachers and former ones will make the difference and help students excel.