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October 23, 2017

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New teacher bonuses are in high demand, might be reduced to $4,000

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Steve Marcus

New teachers “loosen up” as Scott Flansburg, Guinness World Record holder for fastest Human Calculator, gives a demonstration of his abilities during a Clark County School District orientation session for new teachers at the Venetian Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Over 1,700 teachers took part in the orientation.

CARSON CITY — Clark County School District officials say planned signing bonuses authorized by the Legislature have helped them recruit new teachers, but they're still about 1,000 people short of the 2,300 new hires they'd like when school starts next month.

The Nevada State Board of Education is meeting Thursday to review school district requests for some of the $10 million in teacher incentive money that lawmakers authorized for this year. Requests from 10 of the state's districts totaled nearly $11 million, and the state is considering reducing the maximum per-teacher incentive from $5,000 to $4,000 so it can fill all of the more than 2,400 requested bonuses.

Recruiters in both Clark County and Washoe County, which is seeking to fill about 100 more positions before school starts, say even the reduced amount would push potential teachers to choose Nevada.

"If you can offer $1,000, if you can offer something with money, I definitely think it helps in recruiting candidates to Nevada," said Ryan Yanagi, deputy human resources officer at the Clark County School District.

The Las Vegas-area district has launched a massive effort to fill hundreds of vacancies, and wants to focus the bonus money on lower achieving schools. Eighty percent of its open spots are in at-risk schools.

Members of a recruiting staff of about 50 have been traveling around the country to present at colleges and job fairs, while another 80 teachers are spending their summer break following up with candidates.

The district launched a superhero-themed recruiting campaign, "Calling All Heroes," which includes ads in Southwest Airlines in-flight magazines and billboards in Times Square. And it's focusing on an alternative routes to licensure program that helps people who didn't get a degree in education transition into teaching in a short period of time.

"This seems to have been such an amazing opportunity for us," Yanagi said. "The traditional pipeline is not producing as many (teachers) as in the past."

State officials will decide Thursday how they want to distribute the money, which was proposed by Gov. Brian Sandoval and approved toward the very end of the legislative session when the magnitude of the teacher shortage came into focus.

Reducing the individual bonuses would allow a cushion of money for four districts that might apply for the money later and will allow any extra money to be applied to incentives next year.

Washoe County School District officials said they haven't yet promoted the bonuses because the amount hadn't been finalized. But Emily Ellison, the district's director of talent acquisition and development, said she thinks they'll help the district fill up most of its 100 or so vacancies by next month.

"We are working really hard to get those positions filled, so I feel pretty optimistic," she said.

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