MAGNOLIA SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES STAFF BONUSES
During the August 8, 2022, Board meeting, the Magnolia Board of Education addressed the problem of recruiting and retaining school staff by approving the District plan to use APR ESSER funds to give its employees a onetime bonus. Under the plan, certified staff would receive $10,000; classified employees would receive $6,000; and part time would receive $2,000. Payments will be distributed on two equal payments, one in the fall and one in the Spring.
In a letter dated December 16, 2021, from the United States Department of Education, Secretary Miguel A. Cardona, E.D. stated, “The most common reason educators have cited for leaving school employment in the last year is stress, followed by insufficient pay. Many school leaders are increasing wages by offering hiring and retention bonuses, working towards permanent salary increases, or providing premium pay that help educators receive the compensation they deserve and keep them in the profession, and we encourage others to continue to work towards increasing compensation. Hiring and retention bonuses may provide additional relief from some of the stresses caused by COVID-19.”
On July 21, 2022, the Arkansas Legislative Committee also reinforced this concept by recommending school districts to utilize ARP ESSER funds to provide additional bonuses for recruitment and retention. In addition, legislators are also discussing proposing legislation to increase a more permanent salary increase.
For the upcoming 2022-2023 school year, the Magnolia School District (MSD) hired forty-eight new certified employees. This equated to approximately 20% of the teaching and administrative staff. The District also lacks the ability to recruit and retain necessary support staff to adequately perform daily operations.
Magnolia superintendent, John Ward, stated, “the challenges and lack of adequate compensation to provide educational services to a rural and impoverished student body during and after a pandemic environment has resulted in numerous educators considering leaving the district or even the profession. In addition, the lack of adequate compensation joined with the loss of learning, additional responsibilities on educators post COVID, and heightened mental health burden has created a difficult environment to recruit teachers and staff to the profession.”
In response to the current environment, the Magnolia School District will use bonuses to help retain its current employees and recruit new staff members to the District. Although the plan was approved by the Magnolia Board, this proposal still must be approved by the Arkansas Legislative Committee.
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