Durango School District 9-R is offering a hiring bonus for positions filled before March 17.
Areas eligible for the bonus include educational support professionals, student service providers, licensed staff, administrators and managerial tech positions. The categories include positions like bus drivers, custodians, teachers and counselors. Occupational therapists and social workers also fall under the categories.
Bonuses are being given to anyone who is hired between Jan. 1 and March 17.
The school district is trying to attract more employees and improve retention, especially among custodians and bus drivers.
“We wanted to institute a hiring bonus to see if we could capitalize on what we sometimes see as a turn in employment in January,” said Director of Human Capital Laura Galido.
She said the school district often sees an uptick in non-teacher applicants during the first part of the year because people are finished with seasonal employment and companies tend to downsize in December.
“We're also still trying to fill a social worker position that we have open,” Galido said.
The bonuses are offered in two tiers.
Tier one offers a $500 bonus which is paid out in two increments. An applicant, if hired, will receive $250 in February and another $250 in March if hired in February. If hired in March before the deadline, the increments will be paid in March and April.
Tier two offers $1,000 for an applicant who is willing to commit to employment for the rest of this school year and for the 2023-24 school year. Five-hundred dollars will be paid in two-month increments like what is offered in tier one but the applicant will receive a second paycheck of $500 at the beginning of the 2023-24 school year.
However, if an employee leaves the job before the end of the contracted commitment, then he or she must pay back the bonus.
Galido said the number of applications received has increased by 138% when compared this same time last year.
9-R also offered retention bonuses to its existing staff on Jan. 18. Labeled the “Thank You” bonus, existing employees who work 36 hours or more per week received $1,000.
The bonus is prorated based on hours worked. A person who works only 20 hours per week received a $500 bonus.
Staff members who worked their first day between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 of 2022 received a $750 for positions that work 36 hours or more per week and if reemployed during the 2023-24 school year, they will receive another $250.
“For us, if we're going to institute hiring bonuses, it's important for us to also institute a retention bonus because we don't ever want to communicate to our existing employees, ‘You're here but we're after someone new,’ Galido said.
This is not the first time 9-R has offered pay incentives during the 2022-23 school year. In September, the district announced it would raise everyday substitute pay $179 to $200 per day to fulfill a need for substitute teachers. Galido said the district saw around a 15% increase in applications after that announcement was made.