BEATRICE – As schools face ongoing shortages of teachers, a southeast Nebraska district is considering an incentive program to help fill needs in high demand areas.

The Beatrice School Board and administration are discussing a program that would encourage teachers to gain certification in specific areas in exchange for tuition reimbursement.

"A lot of times what will happen is a school will look to a teacher and say, will you go back and get an endorsement. You already have a teaching certificate but will you get another endorsement in a certain area where we have a shortage. In such cases, schools are paying for the tuition, with the understanding that the teacher must meet certain criteria and a commitment to the school."

That initial commitment in the first reading of a newly proposed policy, would be to stay with the district for at least two years to be fully reimbursed for tuition, according to Superintendent Jason Alexander.

"If we've reimbursed the teacher, and they've only served for five months or less, they're responsible for reimbursing us back the cost of that endorsement. Eighty percent of the cost of tuition shall be refunded if the teacher leaves the district having served for at least six months of consecutive service, but less than twelve consecutive months."

Under the initial draft, a teacher who stays with the district at least 13 months but less then two years, only 60-percent tuition would be reimbursed.
The exact formula in the incentive is subject to change, if the board opts to do so. Board member Janet Byars says it was felt the better option was to put the incentive in school policy, rather than a negotiating agreement with instructors.  "Something that we could consider is rather than having four different times, maybe two....that they would reimburse 100-percent if they leave prior to the 12 months, and 50-percent if they leave prior to the 24 months. We could consider something like that. It might also be easier."

Another issue to be determined if whether the reimbursement would be made as the instructor is working toward their new certification, or at the completion of it.  The Beatrice School Board also had the initial reading of a policy on salary advancement that would take into account all prior years experience to be considered when hiring a teacher. "That will hopefully help us remain competitive with other schools that are already doing that....and bring in teachers that we need to continue teaching kids," Alexander said.

Monday night, the board saw approval of four more resignations or retirements from the district.  Those include Middle School Math Teacher and Head Golf Coach Dick Stuart…Speech Language Pathologist Jennifer Lunt….High School Math instructor Erin Hamilton…and Paddock Lane Third grade teacher Megan Dimas.  Two contracts were approved for the coming school year….with elementary teacher Jayse Koehler….and elementary art teacher Cheyenne Pinyan.