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District 153 raises substitute pay rate, offers stipend for staff recruitment

The Homewood District 153 school board approved an increase in its substitute teacher salary, and a $1,000 stipend for staff members who recruit new employees.

With fewer college students majoring in education, the pool of prospective teachers is limited. As the district vies for new personnel, it must remain competitive, Superintendent Scott McAlister said when making the proposals at the Feb. 14 board meeting.

The board agreed to increase the daily rate for a substitute teacher to $125 a day, a jump from $114. Persons with an associate’s degree can serve as a substitute teacher.

The board also agreed to provide a staff member with a $1,000 stipend for each person recommended for a position with the district. The stipend would be split — $500 at the time the person is hired, and $500 if the staff member returns for a second year with the district.

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McAlister said over the past several years, new staff members have come from school districts “that are geographically close to us.” He believes District 153 teachers can be great recruiters among their peers and could convince other teachers to look at the district for employment.

“I’m a firm believer in that the best recommendations come from persons who work here. They have a vested interest in bringing great people in,” he said. He calls the stipend “a small investment in our most valued asset, which is people.”

Board member Jim Schmidt said this proposal was “innovative. It’s an attempt to do something new and different and I hope it’s well received.”

In other business, the board gave its final approval to selling $8.2 million in general obligation bonds for improvements at Willow, Churchill and James Hart Schools. A portion of the work will also be financed with $1.2 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act approved by Congress for pandemic-related improvements to school buildings.

The board set the school calendar for the 2022-23 school year. School will open for students on Wednesday, Aug. 24. The first trimester ends Nov. 18. Students will have an early dismissal day on Thursday, Dec. 22, and no school on Dec. 23 to start winter break which runs until Jan. 9. The second trimester ends March 3. The week-long spring break begins Monday, April 3. The last day of school is Friday, June 2.

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