Scottsdale schools are trying something new to lure teachers to the district: Let insurance benefits kick in as soon as they start working.
“Teachers were coming to work in August and they were without benefits until October,” said Andi Fourlis, director of recruitment and professional development for the Scottsdale Unified School District.
This year, new teachers who attend a two-day orientation on July 31 and Aug. 1 will get insurance benefits starting Aug. 1.
Officials hope the extra incentive broadens the applicant pool so Scottsdale can hire the best prospects possible, Fourlis said.
“We’re dedicating our resources to make sure we have the highest qualified teachers in every classroom,” she said.
Offering the benefits package two months earlier than usual will cost the district about $119,000, said Susan Cole, director of human capital operations for the district.
The efforts to attract candidates seem to be working, Fourlis said. The district had more than 700 applicants this year and hired 170 teachers.
The district hadn’t tracked how many applications it received in previous years, Fourlis said. But this year, principals were interviewing 10 to 12 applicants for positions, whereas in years past they would interview two or three, she said.
However, some new teachers said they were attracted to Scottsdale for the programs, not the benefits.
Whitney Owens, a recent Northern Arizona University graduate who will be teaching at Arcadia Neighborhood Learning Center, said she wanted to teach in Scottsdale because she liked the studentoriented programs.
While Owens said she had heard her benefits may start early, it wasn’t the deciding factor that brought her to Scottsdale.
“None of the other districts I talked to were doing that,” Owens said.
Cheryl Dunham, who taught in the Mesa school district for eight years before coming to Scottsdale, said she moved to help start the Copper Ridge Math and Science Academy.
Scottsdale isn’t the only district to offer incentives to potential teachers. For instance, the Mesa district offers stipends to teachers with English as a Second Language and reading endorsements, said Janice Ramirez, assistant superintendent for Mesa Public Schools.
The Paradise Valley district also offers extra money to some special education teachers and other positions that are hard to fill, said Karen Gasket, assistant superintendent for human resources in the Paradise Valley district.