Gardner Edgerton Approves Incentives for Special Education Teachers
GARDNER, Kansas — As more teachers leave the profession, school districts in one area are taking additional steps to retain special education teachers.
On Monday, the Gardner Edgerton School Board unanimously approved the allocation of $82,100 for incentives to encourage special education staff to stay in the district.
“50% of our special education[ucation] Staff have left the district in the last two years,” said Director of Human Resources Dr. Jodi Marshall.
Marshall said the school district is seeing a staggering turnover rate. About 30% of the special education staff retired in his 2020-21 school year, and about 20% he retired in the 2021-22 school year.
For the 2022-23 school year, the district will offer a $500 “hard to fill” scholarship to all qualified special education staff, including auxiliary professionals. Currently, the starting salary in the school district is $11 an hour for generalized paraprofessionals and $12 an hour for specialized paraprofessionals.
Approximately 106 special education staff are employed during the school year, costing the school district approximately $53,000.
“They are in a difficult position to fill, they are in a unique position. This is just an additional comp[ensation] It’s about recognizing and affirming the work they do,” Marshall said.
The school district will also spend approximately $8,250 to reimburse 33 employees for licensing fees of up to $250 each. This reimbursement is available to professional staff such as speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, school psychologists, social her workers, music therapists and audiologists.
“These people often need to renew their licenses more often than seasoned teachers. [For] Every 5 years for veteran teachers. Some of these professionals have to renew their license every two years, every year. It has a cost. We just want to cover that cost,” Marshall said.
Marshall said the school district has about a dozen special education teachers working under contract each year, as well as working to obtain full licenses for the position. . These teachers are often working on exempt licenses and taking college courses to fulfill their special education role.
The district is now offering these teachers up to $1,000 in tuition reimbursement. This year, the school district will allocate approximately $15,000 to reimburse her 15 teachers for the cost of these courses.
District business and finance director Tiffany Morawiec said the district received increased categorical funding from the state to help cover the costs of the new incentives.
“Not a lot. We’re hoping this year will help people stay so we can work together, and hopefully next year’s budget will be a little more substantial.
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