Fort Wayne Community Schools is increasing its instructor roster with help from federal coronavirus relief dollars.
About a dozen of the 45 teachers hired Monday will be paid with the third round of temporary funding, which can be spent through fall 2024.
The investment in people is part of a strategy to narrow student learning gaps, Superintendent Mark Daniel said, telling the school board the district has added 40 positions.
With more personnel, FWCS can reduce class sizes and focus on students especially in need of help, Daniel said.
The district, which employs about 1,900 people, has filled 204 of 289 open teaching positions for the upcoming academic year, indicating it's on track to meet the looming needs, Daniel said.
Nevertheless, he urged people to apply. The district's needs also include bus drivers, substitute teachers and classroom assistants, primarily for the elementary grades.
“If there are people who are listening that are interested in positions, go to our website,” Daniel said. “We need caring adults in these classrooms to help our kids.”
FWCS has used signing bonuses to attract talent. For instance, six speech language pathologists and 13 teachers who accepted early offers each received $2,500. That adds up to $47,500.
Employees are being told whether their salaries are supported by the temporary federal funding, Daniel said. He doesn't expect they should worry about job security once the dollars run out given normal attrition and turnover.
FWCS is continuing to market its jobs through billboards, radio ads, social media and district newsletters, he said.
“We have some early indicators of success, but more time will be needed before the final results will show,” Daniel said. “If nothing else, we are now much more competitive to the private market.”
The Northwest Allen County Schools board tabled a motion Monday about making face masks optional for students and staff beginning July 1, district spokeswoman Lizette Downey said. The board next meets at 6 p.m. June 28.
The Indiana school mask mandate, which is effective through June 30, has been a controversial topic at NACS, with parents arguing against requiring them.
Starting July 1, local school boards will determine what measures or restrictions are needed regarding the spread of COVID-19. The Allen County superintendents hope to meet with local health officials to discuss the new guidelines, Downey said.
In April, the NACS board approved a resolution stating the superintendent is authorized to update protocols as needed to comply with any subsequent mandate or requirement imposed by local, state or federal officials.