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Gardner, KS: 50% of SPED staff have left the district in 2 years

Aug 16, 2022, Fox4, Kansas City, KS: Gardner Edgerton approves incentives for special education teachers https://fox4kc.com/news/education/gardner-edgerton-approves-incentives-for-special-education-teachers/amp/

GARDNER, Kan. — As more teachers leave the profession, one local school district is taking additional steps to try to retain special education teachers.

On Monday, the Gardner Edgerton school board unanimously approved allocating $82,100 for incentives to encourage special education staff to stay with the district.

“Fifty percent of our special ed[ucation] staff have walked away from the district in the last two years,” Human Resources Director Dr. Jody Marshall said.

Marshall said the district is seeing an alarming turnover rate. Approximately 30% of special education staff left in the 2020-21 school year and roughly 20% departed in the 2021-22 school year.

For the 2022-23 school year, the district will provide a $500 “hard to fill” stipend for all certified special education staff including paraprofessionals. Currently starting pay in the district is $11 per hour for a generalized paraprofessional and $12 per hour for specialized paraprofessional.

With roughly 106 special education staff members hired for the school year, this will cost the district approximately $53,000.

“They are in a hard to fill position, they are in a unique position. This is just additional comp[ensation] to recognize the job they are doing and to affirm them,” Marshall said.

The district will also spend approximately $8,250 to reimburse 33 staff members up to $250 each for license costs. This reimbursement will be offered for specialized staff including speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, school psychologists, social workers, music therapists and audiologists….

The district will now provide those teachers up to $1,000 for tuition reimbursement. This year the district will allocate roughly $15,000 to reimburse 15 teachers for those course expenses….