SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Nebraska (KCAU)– While most people are planning for summer vacations, schools remain focused on staffing shortages going on across the country.

South Sioux City Community School District announced they’ll be giving out nearly $1.5 million in hiring and retaining bonuses for the 2023-24 school year. 

“We wanna make sure that our staff feel valued and they feel like South Sioux City is supporting them as a staff member. And so that kinda the first reason this came about, and then we’re seeing a high number of unfilled positions in our high school math and secondary special education positions within the district,” Said Ashley O’Dell, assistant superintendent with the South Sioux City Community School District.

The district will give returning and incoming salary employees, like teachers, a one-time 3 thousand dollar stipend. While hourly employees are getting 85-cent raises and $1,000 over 9 months.

Positions in high demand, like high school math, will get bigger stipends. The district is using ESSER funds to pay for the bonuses.

“That ESSER money is covid relief funds. so it doesn’t come without sacrifice, but we know that staffing is our number one priority it’s retaining the good people we have and recruiting new,” Said O’Dell

While the South Sioux City Schools face staffing issues, current teachers say they’re often stretched thin.

“In our building, we were down a reading teacher because she was having to fill in a fifth-grade position this school year, because we had a hard time hiring. And she did an amazing job, but then again we were down a reading specialist,” Said Michelle Pottes, Reading And ELT Teacher With Carney Elementary School.

However, South Sioux City educators aren’t the only ones being impacted by the lack of staff.

“Students that I work with who are struggling to read and it’s very important they get that extra support. That support will stop, because I will have to cover a classroom. And there are so many other teachers that help do this,” Said Pottes.

Ashley O’dell, the assistant superintendent with the South Sioux City Community School District says despite current staffing problems, the 2023/24 school year seems promising.

“We’re having a successful hiring season some that we were unable to fill last year, we’re able to fill this year,” Said O’Dell.

O’Dell says while she hopes the district can provide stipends again next year, she knows funding will be an issue.