In hopes of luring in more educators, the Sioux City school district will be rewarding new teachers with a $5,000 bonus.

Permanent substitute teachers, food service workers and bus drivers will also qualify for a recruitment stipend. School board president Dan Greenwell says they’re focusing on positions where recruitment has been failing.

“We need new employees,” Greenwell says, “and doing what we were doing and had been doing probably isn’t going to work in this market, so we have to try something differently.”

School board members say they need to take urgent action on staffing shortages. There are more than 50 unfilled teaching positions within the district.

Representatives from the local teachers’ union say they’re happy to see new hires rewarded, but also say the district needs to focus on retention. Brenda Zahner is the union’s director.

“You have so many employees who have gone above and beyond in the last couple of years dealing with all these staff shortages,” Zahner says, “and I hope that somehow somewhere you find something to give those people as well.”

New teachers will receive their stipend over the course of two years. They can expect the first installment at the end of September.

(Kendall Crawford, Iowa Public Radio)