WACO, TX — The Waco ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved an $8.1M teacher retention bonus Thursday night.
The district says their turnover rate for the last school year is projected to be 21% which is higher than the state average of 16%.
However, it's still lower than the district's turnover rate in 2019 which was 26%.
The funds came as a part of planning for use of the federal stimulus funds the district received and hope with this bonus, a teacher will be incentivized to stay in Waco ISD long term.
"It's a really critical time for our students, our students have really suffered academically as a result of the pandemic all the way back to March of 2020 when we closed our schools. Getting our teachers in place, providing our students with stability is really important right now and we want our students to succeed," says Superintendent Dr. Susan Kincannon with Waco ISD.
Waco ISD plans to return entirely to in-person learning in August. But many teachers made the life choice to leave during the pandemic so retaining remaining teachers is critical.
The bonus money will be split into three payments beginning December of 2022.
The retention bonus is structured in tiered payments depending on the start date (Cohort). The teacher retention bonus is contingent upon the employee completing 30 hours of professional development annually and the employee’s continuous employment on the day of the payout.
Cohort A – beginning August 2021 with a total retention bonus amount of $10,000 divided into 3 payouts with payout dates of December 2022, December 2023, and September 2024.
Cohort B – beginning August 2022 for new hires with a total retention bonus amount of $5,000 divided into two payouts with the payout dates of December 2023 and September 2024.
Cohort C – beginning August 2023 for new hires with a total retention bonus amount of $2,500 paid out one time in September 2024.
"People don't realize how involved teachers are and they buy students supplies out of their own pockets if they don't have them. Keep on doing what they love and doing what they're doing and be involved because they do make a difference in kid's lives every day" says Bianca Tagle, a parent of a future Waco ISD student.
Tagle is the daughter of a retired Waco ISD teacher, who taught with the district for 28 years.
This year her own daughter is starting kindergarten.
"It's super important to keep them active and involved here in Waco and in the interest of growing our community and making better students and residents that want to be here and make the community grow and excel," says Tagle.
The district also approved $500,500 in bonuses for auxiliary staff.
This as the district says it averages about 12-15 custodial vacancies and 35-50 cafeteria worker vacancies at any given time during the school year.
There will be three total payouts for custodial and cafeteria staff of $500, $750 and $1,000 based on years of experience.
Next week the district also plans to propose a compensation plan for teachers of the 2021-2022 school year to raise the starting salary from $49,100 to $50,250.