OPS Board approves teachers, staff stipend plan

Omaha Public School board members just voted to try and stem the wave of mass teacher resignations.
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 10:55 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The first step in approving OPS superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan’s proposal to offer more than $72 million in stipend payments for staff over the next two school years was approved by the school board Monday night.

An amendment to the original allocations planned for Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) needed approval from the board. By a vote of eight to one, the board voted to send a memorandum of understanding to the Omaha Teachers Association for approval. The proposed ESSER amendment also calls for $5.2 million to be made available to cover teacher home visits, $200,000 for hybrid class instruction, and $5 million for loss of plan time.

“We proposed the (memo of understanding) looking at the Hybrid (Funding), and it was good to see that the hybrid was part of that piece,” Robert Miller, OEA president Robert Miller said. “As well as loss of planning time that was impacting teachers this last couple of years.”

Superintendent Logan said last week the Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) was expected to also sign off on the proposal, with the U.S. Department of Education also needing to approve the usage of the federal ESSER funds. The proposal would then face final approval from the Omaha Public Schools board before enactment.

One thing everyone seemed to agree on is that the stipend alone is not enough. OPS teachers and staff want assurances that the board addresses the long-term issues plaguing the overworked, understaffed education system.

”Know that we are saddened and scared by the degradation of the system,” said incoming OEA president Michelle Settlemyer. “(That we are) afraid that your focus has been on the next well-marketed, bright shiny idea at the expense of what is really going on and the kind of grassroots energy that it will take to solve these problems.”

”It is not an insult, it is not a fix-all, but a devotion of a significant portion of limited resources to recognize their efforts and the challenges that they’re facing, no more no less,” said board member Nick Thielen. “It’s one significant thing that we can do to recognize the work of our staff as we continue to engage them about how to lessen the significant load they’ve been asked to carry.”

Logan hopes the approvals allow for the first stipend payments to be made September 1. The stipends will be paid in three payments spread over the school year, allowing the money to not only serve as a retention incentive but also to provide extra funds to new hires who join the district during the school year.

Logan’s plan calls for all full-time staff and teachers to receive $4,500 annually for each of the next two years. Part-time staff and teachers who work at least 20 hours per week would receive $2,250 stipend payments, again spread in equal installments.

Installment dates for the upcoming school year would be 9/1/22, 12/1/22, and 5/15/23.

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