NEW YORK - The city wants to level the playing field when it comes to teacher salaries in order to get talented educators on board with pre-kindergarten. 

The plan involves a $2,500 signing bonus for new teachers at pre-K programs that are offered by community-based early childhood centers. Teachers already employed will get a $3,500 retention bonus. 

In total, 800 signing checks will be handed out, along with another 800 retention checks, costing the $5.8 million. Officials say the goal is to bridge the income gap between district teachers and community-based teachers. 

According to the city's Department of Education, the starting salary for district school teachers is just under $50,000 if they have a bachelor's degree and more than $56,000 with a master's degree. However, pre-K teachers at early childhood centers earn about $44,000 each year with a bachelor's and $50,000 with a graduate degree. 

It is not yet clear exactly when teachers will receive the bonuses.