FORT WORTH, Texas - The Fort Worth Independent School District is asking its own graduates to come back and teach. If and when they do, there are bonuses waiting.
The district has a hiring fair Saturday with plans to offer letters of intent on the spot.
"Anyone who comes to our job fair tomorrow will be offered a $1,000 jumpstart bonus for them starting immediately here in January as soon as we get them processed," said Raul Pena, the chief talent officer for Fort Worth ISD. "And they’ll also get an early commitment for anyone who signs up before April 1."
Fort Worth graduates – those recent or soon-to-be college graduates – will also receive $500 as a "welcome home" bonus.
Plus, there are additional incentives for teachers with specialties in certain fields, like math and science or who are bilingual.
The district has more than 200 teaching vacancies right now.
First-time teachers in Fort Worth can reach a salary up to $69,000 when factoring in the bonuses and annual stipends.
Saturday’s hiring fair is from 9 a.m. to noon.
Walk-ins are welcome, but candidates are encouraged to register online.
More than 250 prospective teachers are registered to attend the event, Fort Worth ISD is hoping some lucrative incentives will impress them.
As the middle of the school year approaches, teachers are in big demand and North Texas districts are upping their game to attract them.
"It is a teacher shortage. There’s not enough teachers to go around and that’s why it is important for these districts to get out and start hiring now," United Educators Association President Steven Poole said.
Poole added that while it’s unusual for the month of December, some districts are hoping to attract teachers with hiring fairs. Mansfield ISD has an event set for Monday.
He said challenges brought on by the pandemic have prompted many to leave the profession, while remaining instructors are feeling overworked.
"I think a lot of school districts are wising up that teacher burn out is real and are working toward alleviating some of the stress on teachers," Poole said. "But not enough has been done. More work is needed because the teachers realize the recovery from the pandemic, learning loss is going to take many years, but it can’t be many years of back breaking work on behalf of teachers."
Poole said districts also face shortages in other areas, bus drivers, custodians, and cafeteria workers, in addition to qualified teachers.