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7:03 AM Sun, Nov. 18th

PUSD approves salary bonus for hard-to-fill positions

Prescott Unified School District Governing Board voted unanimously Monday to offer a salary bonus of up to $3,000 for hard-to-fill teaching positions such as science, math, and special education.

The plan offers new teachers a salary bonus of $1,000 to be paid at the signing of their contract and $2,000 to be paid at the end of the second contract year for teachers in good standing, said Joe Howard, assistant superintendent.

"We wish we could fix this across the board - the salaries - but right now we need to fix this problem," Howard said.

The district has had difficulty finding people for two high school chemistry, two high school biology, one math, and two self-contained special education teaching positions in a timely and consistent manner, Howard said.

"I don't think we have a choice, we can't have a biology class with no teacher in front," board member Joan Fleming said.

When board President Dee Navarro asked if the $1,000 up front would be enough to attract people, Howard said he thought it would be.

"I don't know if $1,000 is enough," board member Maureen Erickson said.

"If this doesn't work then what will we do? Have we talked with the community colleges?" board member Tina Seeley asked.

Howard said they've spoken to the colleges and one teacher has expressed interest in one of the teaching positions at the high school.

"This is kind of a band-aid approach for us and there are larger issues for our salary piece," Superintendent Dave Smucker said. "The economy is not really going anyplace and we recognize there are a lot of places that salaries are frozen, but we recognize that at some point we're going to have to address this to support all of our teachers in every position in the school district."

While one local school district offers a one-time signing bonus for hard-to-fill positions, another does not.

"The Humboldt Schools offer no salary incentives for hard-to-fill positions," said Mariela Bean, public relations spokeswoman for Humboldt Unified School District. "Of course, the district is always open to considering the option, should the need arise in the future."

Cindy J. Daniels, assistant superintendent for Chino Valley Unified School District, said

CVUSD has offered one-time signing bonuses for special education and math teachers.

"These are typically hard to fill," Daniels said. "Other hard-to-fill positions include foreign language and science; however, we have not hired for these in the recent years."

CVUSD offers employees full health, dental, and vision benefits that employees pay no premiums for themselves, Daniels said.

"Finally, when allowable under Title II federal guidelines, we have reimbursed teachers for tuition and related education expenses - such as content area professional examinations - when those teachers were adding endorsements or approved areas to their

teaching certificates for hard-to-fill areas," Daniels said. "These have included reading endorsements, math, science, and foreign language. This has allowed us to utilize current staff in a wider variety of teaching positions, and to retain staff if they could be

reassigned to vacant positions."