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Elkhorn Public Schools

Elkhorn announces retention, recruitment initiatives including $1,500 stipends

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Elkhorn Public Schools announced several initiatives to address the ongoing teacher shortage, including $1,500 stipends, a substitute raise and an offer to buy back unused personal leave or sick days.

New and returning staff at the Elkhorn Public Schools will be able to receive more money for the 2022-23 school year after the board approved several initiatives Monday.

Two stipends and three pilot programs will be implemented starting in August to help address an ongoing teacher shortage while compensating staff for inflation, according to board documents.

Returning full-time certificated and support staff will receive a one-time bonus of $1,500 in August or September. New certificated or support staff hires will receive an extra $100 per month over the course of the 2022-23 school year.

Elkhorn also is implementing pilot programs to help with the continuing substitute teacher shortage. In an email sent to staff Monday night, Superintendent Bary Habrock said the district needed to pay for more than 13,500 days of subbing in the last school year. That was a slight increase from the past two years, according to the district.

“New incentives have been added for the 2022-23 school year to evaluate if an impact can be made to increase the availability of subs while also limiting the demand for substitute teachers simultaneously,” Habrock said in the email.

In an effort to increase teacher attendance, the district will buy back unused personal leave days at the current substitute rate. Teachers can also receive $100 for each unused sick day, up to five sick days for this school year.

These initiatives will be only for certified staff, and if the employee leaves at the end of the 2022-23 school year, they won’t be eligible for sick leave compensation, according to board documents.

Meanwhile, Elkhorn substitute teachers will receive a raise. Board members agreed to increase the daily substitute rate from $160 to $165. Payment for long-term subs will increase from $170 to $180 per day. When a substitute reaches 35 full days in a semester, they will receive the long-term rate for the remaining days of that current semester.

All of the initiatives will cost nearly $2.5 million. Habrock said in an email that the money will come from unexpected revenue the district received this summer after the Douglas County treasurer corrected its tax payments for 2022 following a series of accounting mistakes.

“The support of our board of education with these payments has been fantastic,” Habrock said in an email. “During teacher negotiations, they wished they had the money to do more for our staff in recognition of the educational challenges of the past couple years, in response to the teacher/staff shortages, and given record inflation in our economy.”

Carla Rohwer, president of the Elkhorn Education Association, said the new incentives are a product of negotiations with the district last year when union officials discussed ways to address the issues of hiring and retaining teachers.

“The school board and Dr. Habrock are looking out for teachers,” she said. “The association always strives for the teachers’ voices to be heard. They weren’t only heard, they were listened to.”

Elkhorn isn’t the only school district that has created stipends to address teacher retention. In June, the Omaha Public Schools announced it will be distributing $4,500 to full-time staff and $2,250 to part-time staff.

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