Bonuses, pay raises aim to fight teacher shortage across San Antonio-area schools

School districts offer generous incentives for full-time, substitute teachers amid COVID-19 pandemic

SAN ANTONIO – The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on educators, including many who have already left the classroom.

Now, administrators at several San Antonio-area school districts are taking action to entice their teachers to keep showing up to work and for new faces to join.

Although days away from Christmas break, school districts like Edgewood ISD are focused on filling teacher vacancies.

“We currently have about 34 vacancies, and it varies in grade levels from elementary to secondary,” said Mary Cantú, who is director of the district’s Human Resources Department.

In a time where many teachers have decided to switch careers due to the stress of the pandemic, on Monday afternoon a handful of candidates lined up for on-the-spot teacher interviews.

“I really feel like it’s important that we invest in children, and it’s hard to do that outside the classroom,” said Justin Venable, who is currently a teacher at a charter school.

Venable admits teaching, especially during the pandemic, has not been easy. Now, his hope is to continue teaching at a public school district.

“I feel like the pandemic increased the stress level of everyone. I’ve never found this to be an easy, easy job. It’s always been challenging,” he said.

In the case of Juan Campos, he wants to come back to his roots at Edgewood ISD.

“In all my 27 years (of teaching), I worked here,” Campos said.

Campos has enjoyed retirement for the past 10 years but is ready to return to the classroom.

“I (saw) a need, and I thought I could help by coming back. The fear of children falling behind because we don’t have anybody to be there with them in the classroom to teach them, I think primarily that’s my concern,” he said.

New Edgewood ISD hires are getting a sign-on bonus to fight against the teacher shortage. At least one candidate at Monday’s job fair was hired on the spot.

“(At Edgewood ISD) we have a $3,000 sign-on bonus that is valid through Jan. 31st, 2022,” Cantú said. “For bilingual (teachers), it’s an additional $1,500 sign-on bonus, plus a $3000 stipend.”

The bonuses are for new full-time hires at Edgewood.

Harlandale ISD is also applauding the work of their teachers.

Last month the district announced full-time employees would received a retention stipend of $1,000.

Other districts are also increasing the pay of substitute teachers.

SAISD’s Board of Trustees recently voted to increase daily pay for substitutes to up to $225, depending on the subject, days and grade level taught.

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About the Authors:

Alicia Barrera is a KSAT 12 News reporter and anchor. She is also a co-host of the streaming show KSAT News Now. Alicia is a first-generation Mexican-American, fluent in both Spanish and English with a bachelor's degree from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys reading books, traveling solo across Mexico and spending time with family.