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Tuition support a tool to recruit special ed teachers

Director of PAWN Special Education Eva Pohl addressed the Nevis School Board Monday night about the recruitment and retention of special education teachers.

PAWN Special Education serves students in the districts of Park Rapids, Walker-Hackensack Akeley, Nevis and Pine Point.

In July, a report was gathered in the region about the regional tuition support for teachers to obtain their special education license, which Pohl talked through with the board members.

"It's pertinent to us as we ended up hiring a community expert to fill a special ed position here in the district for this coming year," she explained.

Pohl added it has been difficult filling these positions and as PAWN recognized that, they did a survey of all the special ed teachers in the region and determined that tuition support could be beneficial to the region.

"We want to support our people and get them on board and with that, we've offered this tuition support to some of the folks," she said. "We ask that they give us a five year commitment and we're hoping that by doing it that way we get them hooked, that they want to be here and stay with us."

According to Pohl, PAWN has been accepting applicants for tuition support since the 2016-17 school year when they had 10 applicants, for this coming year they have received 33 applications.

"It's growing. The word is out there we're supporting people but part of that is also reflective of the need out there," she said. "People are tapping into it, because it's a win-win for the applicant and for us."

When looking at special permissions, Pohl said PAWN had 49 special permissions in fiscal year 2017.

"Coming up in 2018 there were 54 in July and I guarantee you that has increased because since then several more hires were made and it's well over that mark going into the 2018 school year," she said.

Pohl explained that people who have received tuition support in the region have ended up staying in those districts.

For 2018, they are looking at a projected number of $80,000 in tuition support money that they are collectively using of their regional funds.

"I've talked to many individuals about coming on board and getting their special education license because we truly want people to fill them and have our kids taught by those folks who are ready to teach them," Pohl said.

In other business school board members did the following:

• Authorized the payment of bills in the amount of $387,431.21.

• Approved new hires, Rebecca Goodsell, Lisa Kriens and Melinda Spry as Educational Assistants.

• Accepted the resignation of Educational Assistant Stacey Feder.

• Approved the final readings of the 2017-18 Staff Handbook and the 2017-18 Student/Parent Handbook.

• Approved the hiring of Jacob Marcus as a 1.0 FTE 7-12 Social Studies Teacher.

The next regular school board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 25 in the school media center.