- In a new pilot plan, leaders of the Aurora (Colo.) Public Schools are considering using $1.8 million in incentives to attract and retain roughly 400 educators in hard-to-staff positions including special education teachers, and secondary math and science teachers in select schools, as well as school nurses, psychologists, occupational therapists and speech therapists district-wide, Chalkbeat reports.
- District leaders hope the investment will save money in the long run since many of these positions, if not filled internally, will have to be filled through contracts with agencies at a higher cost.
- The local union is opposing the plan, which would offer a stipend ranging from $2,500 to $3,000 per employee, because of concerns over creating pay inequities; moreover, the local union president cites past surveys that indicate that pay is not a top consideration for staffing the positions.
Though the school year has just ended, most school leaders are now busy with the job of filling teaching and staff positions for the coming academic year. The reality of the teacher shortage is hitting many administrators particularly when it comes to filling some of the hardest-to-staff positions. In a competitive environment, many school districts are working to pull out all the stops when it comes to attracting and retaining new talent to fill these positions.
While cash incentives and bonuses are one approach to solving the issues, other school districts are exploring alternatives such as help with housing costs, paying student loans and obtaining alternative credentials. Some school districts are also tapping retired teachers and paraprofessionals to fill the gaps. Rural school districts often face special challenges in attracting and retaining teachers and must develop creative solutions and new marketing plans to meet those challenges.
Other school districts look at the problem as a long-term battle and are beginning the recruitment process while prospective teachers are still in high school. Others are offering the Opportunity Culture approach, which allows teachers more scope to advance in the field and earn extra money while sharing their teaching skills with colleagues. The summer months are the best times to focus on developing new strategies that will not only help fill teaching slots for the coming year, but also for years to come.