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Texarkana school district approves bonuses in effort to retain employees

by Andrew Bell | November 16, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

TEXARKANA, Ark. -- The School Board here approved a one-time $1,000 retainment bonus to full-time employees to help mitigate teacher attrition rates during a regular meeting on Tuesday evening.

Due to the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on teachers, TASD has experienced slightly increased long-term attrition rates from its faculty. The district has typically been able to minimize these rates to around 2% to 4%, but with added pressures like virtual teaching and added preparation from COVID, many teachers either have hinted at retirement or already retired.

The payment will be received by staff members in December and will be prorated for anyone who is employed less than full time and/or hired after Oct. 1. An additional $1,000 incentive payment would be paid to employees who return their signed contracts before May 1, 2022, and are employed through June 30, 2022 -- this would guarantee a commitment for the 2022-2023 school year.

Since TASD bus drivers are already scheduled to receive two $750 retirement incentive payments, $250 will be added to both of them to make them $1,000 each. Any bus driver hired after Oct. 1 would receive a prorated amount.

This will be paid for through Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.

"This is an incentive for both classified and certified staff," Superintendent Dr. Becky Kesler said. "The numbers are beginning to increase this month because we have lost even more certified staff. So, this is to entice our staff to stay."

In other news from the meeting, the board approved the administration's recommendation of continuing to not require masks on campus.

Kesler said there have been a low amount of quarantines since the decision to do away with masks was made last month, and the administration believes it is not enough to begin requiring masks again.

There was a motion and a second on the item. However, one member -- Board Secretary Vickie Lacy -- opposed.

The board also approved an increase of pay from $20 to $50 an hour for bus duty for all staff members.

In addition, $207,200 was approved for two 77-passenger buses from Summit Bus Co., with funding to come from ESSER funds.


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