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STATEWIDE–Lawmakers are considering legislation that would give more incentives to Hoosiers to make a career switch to education.

The Indiana Department of Education says more than 1,600 teacher positions were open at the start of this past school year. State Representative Dave Heine of Fort Wayne says he wrote a law last year which created a scholarship opportunity for students enrolled in a transition to teaching certification program. As a result, Indiana awarded 100 $10,000 scholarships.

“We received overwhelming support for these scholarships from professionals who want to pursue a career in education. Indiana was flooded with applications and it was obvious that the demand far exceeded the million dollars we set aside for the scholarship awards. This session, our goal is to dip into the state’s existing resources to fund more of these opportunities,” said Heine.

A bill being discussed this legislative session says the remaining balance in the Next Generation Hoosier Educators Scholarship Fund after all scholarships are awarded, could be used to provide transition to teaching scholarships. Supporters of it say the programs will make sure there are more teachers in Indiana.

State Representative Jack Jordan of Bremen co-wrote the bill. He says in order to be eligible for the transition to teaching scholarship, an applicant would need to have a bachelor’s degree. They would also have to agree to get an initial practitioner license and teach in Indiana for at least five years.

“This scholarship is a great opportunity to pull Indiana’s talented career professionals into our classrooms. Our goal is to expand this successful initiative and help our schools fill much-needed positions,” said Jordan.

The bill has passed through the House and it is being reviewed in the Senate.

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