Public schools are rife with issues. One of the biggest problems plaguing the education sector this year is the great teacher shortage. No one seems to be immune, as districts all across the nation are coming up with innovative ways to attract new educators and retain existing ones. In Des Moines, Idaho teachers are now being offered $50,000 in incentives, just to simply stay put at their jobs amid the teacher crisis.
According to a report from Axios, Des Moines public school teachers who are close to retirement are being offered the hefty sum of cash on top of their normal earnings for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. To qualify for the bonus, the educators need to be 60 or older by June 30th of 2023 and have a minimum of 15 years of employment with the Des Moines public school district. So far, at least 58 teachers, nurses, and administrators have jumped at the opportunity.
The district is hopeful that this initiative for existing Des Moines teachers will work as a quick fix for the short-term future as the district is plagued by teacher shortages. Chief Financial Officer Shashank Aurora says that by offering nearing retirees incentives to stay a bit longer, it alleviates the need for more drastic measures amid staffing vacancies. And in the central U.S. city, desperate times call for desperate measures.
At the end of the last school year, the public school district lost more than 500 Des Moines teachers. That accounts for more than 15% of the district’s teacher population. Knowing how alarming this trend is, state officials have enacted several measures to combat the growing issue of keeping enough teachers in the classrooms. In June, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law that eliminates standardized tests needed by educators to receive their teaching licenses. This may be a successful long-term solution to the problem but does nothing for the district this coming year.
Without the incentive of $50,000 to the oldest Des Moines teachers who may have left the classroom behind this coming school year, the district may have been forced to make some hard decisions. Other schools across the country have had to combine classrooms, eliminate certain elective and AP courses, and even hire foreign instructors. While it is unknown how much of the district’s budget this endeavor will have to tap into, it was viewed by school officials as a necessary measure to keep schools operating.
While some Des Moines teachers have taken advantage of the incentive, the district still has at least 50 teacher vacancies, and more than 100 support staff positions to fill before school starts in just three more weeks. Portions of the education system will still likely suffer, as Axios also reports that many after-school programs will be inoperable due to staffing issues. Additionally, Des Moines is not alone in its struggles, as across the entire state, over 5,400 public school jobs remain unfilled to date.
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to the mass teacher shortage in America. What’s more, even the long-term efforts attempting to make it easier for aspiring educators to attain their degree may be futile, as fewer individuals are interested in the career than ever before. But either way, Des Moines teachers nearing retirement are likely not complaining, as some of them now have an extra $50,000 in pocket because of the district’s struggles.