DougCo superintendent announces raises and creative retention strategies

Suzie Glassman

CORRECTION: The district is looking into attainable housing options, not affordable housing, as an earlier version stated. Tuition reimbursement is for continuing education, training, and certifications and is not tied to obtaining a teaching license or endorsements. Superintendent Kane will host a virtual town hall, not a series. And the feedback from the teacher's union was to add a personal day. A previous version implied the union negotiates employee discounts and advocated to keep health premiums flat.

By: Suzie Glassman/NewsBreak Denver

(Castle Rock, CO) Douglas County teachers and staff can expect some happy news in their inboxes this week. Superintendent Erin Kane announced a plan to use unspent money from positions the district couldn’t fill to provide a one-time retention stipend, modest pay increase, and more tuition reimbursement.

“We want to make sure that our employees hear that we value you, we appreciate you, and we are doing every creative thing we can to make your workplace as happy as it can be and to take care of you financially,” said Kane.

Kane also said it was essential to solidify and announce these benefits before the upcoming hiring season so teachers know what to expect and will hopefully remain with the district.

Full-time staff will receive a $2,000 retention bonus in September, and part-time staff can expect $1,000. The bonus is PERA-includable and will also go to 110 post-retirement employees (those who work 110 days in a calendar year).

The district will also announce a modest base pay increase this spring.

Additionally, teachers and staff can once again request tuition reimbursement for continuing education, training, and certifications. Kane said district funds earmarked for this program ran out in October due to high demand. There are 114 employees currently on a waitlist.

Chief human resources officer Amanda Thompson, said the district will commit to keeping health insurance premiums flat and continue working with local businesses on valuable employee discounts.

Based on feedback from the DougCo teacher’s union, the district will add a personal day for all eligible staff in July.

Kane said they will provide schools with a budget for team-building and “engage in conversations with leaders on the protection of teacher planning time and flexibility for designated teacher work days as appropriate.”

Brooke Vincent, a third-grade teacher who was there to speak about core reading instruction, used part of her time to thank Kane and the board of education. “I just need you to hear how valuable this is for the people who work day in and day out for our district,” she said.

Long-term solutions

Kane stressed that these one-time strategies wouldn’t solve the need for a mill levy override (MLO) to increase staff pay, make the district more competitive, and provide a living wage.

“We absolutely still need 5A (the MLO). An essential component of our ability to retain staff is a continued commitment to go after funding,” she said.

Thompson mentioned creative solutions like attainable housing options and covering the cost of becoming a teacher. She will offer more details next month.

Kane plans a virtual town hall with district staff to hear feedback and discuss other long-term solutions.

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