The Philomath School District announced a plan late last week on how to use just under $205,000 in funding out of a state grant that requires it be used for staff recruitment and retention purposes.
Superintendent of Schools Susan Halliday said that part of the district’s grant money will provide all staff members with a “one-time appreciation incentive for their commitment to Philomath students and schools.”
The Legislature passed House Bill 4030 and Gov. Kate Brown signed it into law this past April. According to the Oregon Department of Education, “the funds should be utilized to prioritize efforts to recruit and retain diverse educators, classified and certified, as well as retain and recruit for hard-to-fill positions.”
“We are incredibly grateful to the state for these one-time funds and are even more appreciative of our Philomath community for their steadfast support of our schools,” School Board member Christopher McMorran said. “Philomath students deserve the absolute best, and that starts with excellent staff who have the tools they need to support our students.”
Halliday points to the challenges that educators have faced over the past two years. A recent study found that during the pandemic, school staff members worked significantly more hours than they had previously.
“The (Philomath) district discussed activities that might continue to be actionable into the future with both collective bargaining units,” Halliday said. “With these focused funds only being available for a single year, sustainability of activities could be a struggle.”
Halliday said that as one-time, single-year funds that are unattached to the school district’s overall general fund budget requirements, consideration of expenditures broadened in scope.
In addition to the “appreciation” incentives going to staff members, the grant funds will also be used for:
• Mentors for staff new to the education field of work.
• Ambassadors for staff new to and continuing with the Philomath School District.
• Professional learning opportunities for staff.
• Tuition reimbursement to support classified employees seeking to become teachers.
• Reimbursement for classroom supplies purchased out of pocket by staff members.
Halliday noted that mentors and ambassadors for new staff, funded by the grant, are current school district employees.
In all, the Education Staff Retention and Recruitment Grant allocated $204,846.66 to the Philomath School District.
“As we approach the requested renewal of our local option levy, Measure 2-137 currently on the
November ballot, the School Board would like to reiterate to the community that the levy renewal is not connected to the one-time funds from ODE,” McMorran said. “The local option levy is designed to support district programs and services through the next five years.”