ST PAUL, Minn. — At Focus Beyond Transition Services in St. Paul, having the right staffing to support and instruct students is crucial.
"Every student who is in our building has a disability and requires additional services," said Assistant Principal Micaela Smith. "If we don't have people to help support our students, we are limiting their growth."
This week, Saint Paul Public Schools announced new hiring and retention bonuses of up to $10,000 for the first 70 special education licensed staff hired for the 2023-24 school year.
The state’s second-largest district anticipates more than 70 job openings for special education staff next year, including teachers, social workers, psychologists and speech and language pathologists, as well as openings for math, chemistry, middle school science, physical education, Montessori and language immersion teachers.
"St. Paul is allocating about $1 million out of our general budget," said Daveanna Tarpeh, a recruitment and diversity specialist with SPPS.
She says the bonus will be paid in three installments over the next two years, incentivizing staff to stay.
Current district staff who get licensed and hired for these positions will also receive the bonus.
"You'll get a certain amount when you start, your first 30 days and moves through with your growth in the district," said Tarpeh.
As of mid-August of last year, SPPS had 340 openings for the current school year, including 138 openings for teachers.
On average, the district says they hire 200-250 new teachers every year.
At Focus Beyond, "we are missing about 20 staff right now," Smith said. "We are more short with our support staff, educational assistants and teaching assistants, throughout the last year we have needed a lot of teachers."
The district says the goal now is to start hiring qualified educators before the first day of school, in the end, working to attract and retain teachers in St. Paul.
"When we are able to be fully staffed we can expand programs and focus on transition," said Smith.
In addition to the $10,000 bonuses, SPPS is offering several other incentives for additional hard-to-fill positions. These bonuses include:
- $4,000 for the first 60 educators who hold a Tier 2, 3 or 4 license and are hired to teach math, chemistry, middle school science, physical education, Montessori, language immersion or English as a Second Language (Latino Consent Decree positions only)
- $4,000 for the first 50 special education educational assistants (EAs), behavior intervention specialists and mental health practitioners hired for next year
- $4,000 for the first 50 special education teaching assistants (TAs) hired for next year
- $2,000 for current Tier 2 special education teachers in SPPS who obtain a Tier 3 or 4 license by November 2023
Candidates who are interested in applying can visit their website.
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