Courier Staff Writer
By the time students start classes start in the fall, all the best candidates for teaching jobs have already been snatched up. The Ottumwa school district wants some of those top teachers, too.
Monday, the Ottumwa school board will vote on offering current teachers a bonus to inform the district’s human resources department months before they resign or retire.
“It’s not an early retirement [plan],” said Ottumwa Superintendent Davis Eidahl. “We started this a few years ago; if a teacher has an idea that they want to retire at the end of the year, this is an incentive to let us know early.”
For Monday’s school board agenda, members are expected to allow a $1,500 bonus to any teacher age 55 or older with 10 years in the district, who notifies the superintendent of schools in writing that they will be retiring.
The notification by the teacher must be made by Feb. 15.
“That allows us to get on the recruiting trail before other districts start looking,” Eidahl said. “There’s a great window for hiring in February and March.”
Most districts don’t start hiring until the end of March, and some don’t finish interviews until May.
“That’s when districts are aware of what vacancies they’ll have,” because that’s when districts and teachers are signing contracts, Eidahl said.
He added the Ottumwa Community Advisory Board has said there’s no benefit to students when an opening for a specific job comes up, needs to be filled quickly — and there’s only one applicant for the job.
“If you wait until August, that pool shrinks considerably because the high-quality candidates have been hired,” Eidahl said.
The early notice lets Ottumwa school district officials attend the university job fairs with knowledge of whom they need to hire.
“It has been very successful. We’ve hired over 140 teachers in the past three years,” he said. “We can visit with [up to] 60 candidates applying for one position. We get to pick the highest-quality [candidate].”
They also post openings online.
Eidahl said perhaps 85 percent of the teachers hired over the past three years were hired “early,” before some districts even knew how many teachers they’d need to hire for each subject.
So, Eidahl believes, it’s worth a cash bonus to get that head start.
“One of the most important things we can do is replace that retiring teacher with another quality teacher. In another five or six weeks, our human resources office will be buzzing.”