February 26th, 2024

• Leader & Times

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part two of the story recapping the events of the most recent meeting of the USD 480 school board Monday evening and will focus on discussion of teacher recruitment incentives that occurred during the meeting.
Teacher recruitment has been a challenge throughout not only the state of Kansas but throughout the U.S. too. Monday evening, the USD 480 school board discussed some incentives that could help with that issue in Liberal. USD 480 Human Resources Supervisor Kristyn Reust led the discussion.
“Jerry [Clay] and I had talked about putting the Welcome to Liberal bonus in their first paycheck so that way they’re not just getting the check and then taking it and running,” Reust said. “I’d also looked at places like Garden City and Dodge City, and they both offer $1,500 sign-on bonuses. I thought it would be better to offer them a $1,000 Welcome to Liberal bonus so they can use that for things they may need like a deposit on a new place or for groceries or furnishings for their new places because each teacher will have different needs, so I thought $1,000 would be good to be allocated in that way.”
Another incentive Reust talked about was a Bring a Friend bonus, which offers $500 each to any newly hired teacher who recommends a friend who also gets hired.
“I thought of that because who would want to move to a new area just by themselves?” Reust said. “I know the people I went to school with, like the education majors, they had all their friends and they all applied to the same schools and I think that would make them happier here to have someone here who they’re already close with and can help them settle.”
There was also discussion of a Current Teacher Recommend a Friend Bonus, which also gives $500. How this bonus works is if a current USD 480 teacher recommend a teacher and that teacher is hired on, they both receive the bonus, Reust said.
“I really think this will help because if we have new teachers who are by themselves and can get one of their former classmates to come out here, we have a better chance of keeping them rather than losing them to wherever their friends are,” Reust said.
Reust also talked about a possible gift card contest for potential interviewees.
“This is to hopefully get more people to stop by our booth at the job fairs we hit and interview with us,” Reust said. “Then as soon as I get their information I can contact them.”
Reust also talked about some of the extra steps she is taking with the recruitment process.
“During this entire process, I’ve been going out online a lot with social media and getting our district out there,” Reust said. “I’ve also been to nearly 60 Classifieds Web sites posting for USD 480 needing teachers and I have gotten quite a bit of response from that, so we’ve been hitting those pretty hard. And as the recruiting season goes on, I’ll be tracking how beneficial each incentive has been so next year when we come back and gear up, we’ll see what we’ll need to do because maybe that gift card didn’t really do anything so we’ll trash it. But I’d rather go overkill on recruiting than under.”
Reust then took questions from the board, starting with Board Vice President Travis Combs.
“You mentioned that Welcome to Liberal bonus being in their first paycheck, but that first paycheck is typically after they’ve already moved here, which is about late August,” Combs said. “So they probably wouldn’t be able to pay down that deposit or things like that so if that’s the reason for doing that bonus, how will they use it if they don’t give it until after they’re here?”
“That’s something Jerry and I talked about and are still talking about, so if any of you have any other ideas, I’m more than open to them,” Reust said.
“The requirement was they get it after they arrive here, not before,” Superintendent Renae Hickert said.
Some other ideas were thrown around from the board members including getting the bonus upon signing rental or lease agreements or such items that prove residency. Discussion on these incentives continued for several minutes before the board ultimately unanimously approved the incentives.
“There’s been a huge amount of transition throughout the past couple years and some people roll with that and some don’t,” Hickert said. “Some people got to go where they wanted to and some who didn’t. That’s what we’ve had to work with.”