Posted Date: 06/14/2022
Board of Education Increases Sign-On Bonuses for Qualified Teachers
In an effort to recruit and retain teaching staff, the Board of Education increased sign-on bonuses for qualified certified teachers for the 2022-2023 school year.
Executive Director of Human Resources Jay Loegering recommended the increases to help Union compete with other school districts looking to hire teachers in the wake of staff shortages and other challenges caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The urgent need for the recruitment and retention of high-quality teachers has been drastically impacted by COVID, seen nationwide especially in special education,” Loegering said. “Through diligent work of many of our staff, Union has been able to procure additional grant funding for some sign-on bonuses, which allows us to increase bonuses we have in place for difficult to fill positions.”
The Board’s approval means:
Funding for the bonuses will come from the American Rescue Plan ESSER III (Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) and other grant funds. The sign-on bonuses are payable within the first two regularly scheduled pay dates, he said. Employees receiving the sign-on bonus are required to sign an agreement to return the signing bonus in its entirety should they leave the district within the stated timeframe. The one-time stipends are not considered part of regular salaries or benefits.
In a separate hiring matter, Board members approved an agreement between Oklahoma Department of Human Services and Union Public Schools to retain three school-based specialists.
“The specialists work under the authority of both the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and Union Public Schools,” said Scott Pennington, director of Hope-Guidance-Social and Emotional Learning. “These 12-month positions give more direct access to our families, as well as serve our schools as social workers.”
Duties include but are not limited to: Student and family support, connecting students and families with resources and services, education and training, community engagement and resource development, and meeting students’ behavioral and emotional needs.
Amy Smith To Head English Learning; Dr. Leedy Smith Named Boevers Principal
Amy Smith has been named as the new program director for English Learning at Union Public Schools. She most recently served as principal at Boevers Elementary School. As director, she will oversee the district’s EL program, which includes instructional and translation needs. It is Union's mission to provide EL and immigrant students a high-quality program, designed to assist students in learning English and to meet challenging state academic content and student academic standards.
Amy Smith had been principal at Boevers since 2016 and has served as an administrator or teacher at McAuliffe, Jefferson, Rosa Parks and McAuliffe Elementary Schools, a total of more than 17 years and she is particularly familiar with the needs of EL students. She was also named Rosa Parks Teacher of the Year in 2009-2010. She received her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Northeastern State University. She received her master’s degree from Oklahoma State University in Educational Leadership Studies.
Dr. Leedy Smith, who served as an assistant principal at Ellen Ochoa Elementary, has been named the new principal at Boevers Elementary. Dr. Smith joined Union Public Schools in 2018. In 2019, she was named assistant principal at Grove Elementary after previously serving as administrative intern for the 2018-2019 school year. She joined the Roy Clark family in summer 2020. In 2021, she was named assistant principal at Ellen Ochoa Elementary.
Smith earned her Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish as well as a Master of Education degree from Harding University. Her doctorate in educational administration and curriculum supervision is from the University of Oklahoma. She is a member of Oklahoma Association of Elementary School Principals. Her teaching career began in 1998 in Tennessee. She also taught in Texas before returning to Oklahoma to continue her career. Throughout the course of her career, Smith has taught all levels of Spanish, from Spanish 1 to AP Spanish Literature. Smith has also served as an instructional coach.
New Playground Changes Coming to Peters, Rosa Parks
Board members approved expenditures to make playground improvements at Peters and Rosa Parks Elementaries up to $396,939 from Magnum Construction.
This project will allow the district to construct a new playground at Peters Elementary and install some new equipment in the special needs playground at Rosa Parks Elementary, explained Fred Isaacs, director of Construction Services.
The new playground at Peters Elementary will have new equipment, mulch, drainage, and a new box border, he said.
In another big capital improvements project, the Board approved a contract Vision Air Services for $797,000 for HVAC replacement at Grove Elementary. Funding will come from voter-approved bond money.
In other action, the Board approved: