OSCEOLA, AR (KAIT) - The Osceola School District spent the summer trying to fill open teaching positions.
Osceola Superintendent Michael Cox and his staff hired 35 teachers just in time for school to start.
The district has been experiencing a shortage in teachers, especially in the high school and special education areas.
Cox said the shortage is due to many teachers not actually living in Osceola. He said the teachers that commute find jobs closer to home and leave the district.
This year, Osceola schools implemented incentives to bring teachers in.
"We offer a $3,000 hiring bonus for these shortage areas," Cox said. "Then if they stay the second year they get another $2,000, then the third year another $2,000 and the fourth year they get $3,000 so it's a total of $10,000."
Cox advertised for teachers all over the state and the district finally filled the positions and now the school is fully staffed.
He told Region 8 News that a few teachers tried to leave in the past week, but he could not afford to let them go, especially if they were a teacher in one of the shortage areas.
"I have even had some teachers to call in the past week or so and say they have been offered a job somewhere else and I have let one or two go but I have also have held some that I couldn't replace," Cox said.
The city also stepped up to help the school bring in people.
New teachers who moved to Osceola had their water and light deposit waived by the city.
Cox said it was a community effort to get these positions filled and the kids well educated.
"We are all pulling together and hoping things will pick up and turn around and we want every child we can have in that district and we're going to educate all of them," Cox said.
The Osceola School District recently received a $1.3 million school improvement grant from the state that Cox said will help them give incentives to teachers who have been in the district for years.
"We don't want to overlook our veteran teachers." he said. "We have a lot of teachers who have been there 15 or even 20 years and I don't want to overlook them. I appreciate what they have done and we want them to continue at Osceola."
Cox said Osceola has a good year coming up with multiple additions including new sounds systems, intercoms, security systems, cameras on buses and the continued heating and cooling project.
He said he is happy to get the positions filled and see the kids come back to school after a busy summer.
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