OMAHA, Neb (KMTV) — There are only a couple of weeks left before school is back in session.
That means kids are getting ready for class, parents are making sure they bought enough school supplies, and at Omaha Public Schools, they are racing to make sure they have enough teachers to fill their classrooms.
“The world has changed. The job market has changed, people have choices and we know that. We have to attract people and how we do that looks different,” said Charles Wakefield, the Chief Human Resources officer at OPS.
OPS has been on a hiring spree this summer and Wakefield reported the district will have 403 new teachers before the fall semester begins but even with the hundreds of new faces, the district is still coming up short in some areas especially when it comes to support staff.
Right now four elementary schools and one secondary school have less than 90% of their certified teaching positions filled although only two of those schools have more than two open teaching positions.
On the other hand, 20 schools have less than 69% of their support positions filled.
“We are still working, we have 15, 16, 17 days so we are still working to hire teachers or use long-term subs in those cases. Or work with the building principal and see if they can make adjustments,” said Wakefield.
OPS and other school districts have had to get creative to entice prospective employees.
On Monday night, the board voted to approve a stipend for staff to help retention.
Now full-time OPS staff will be eligible for a $4500 yearly stipend and part-time staff will receive a $2250 stipend to be paid out in 3 increments throughout the year.
It's sure to help out some teachers but members of the board say it's just a start and they want to get more money to teachers in the future.
“Way down the road, I am hoping we are going to be able to increase salaries in the future for our teachers. I am supportive of that and I hope that will help us down the road hiring more,” said board member Margo Juarez.
Any new employee at OPS will be eligible for the stipend as long as they begin before August 18th and employees who are hired after that will be eligible for the stipend payment in December.