Oregon Education Staff Retention and Recruitment Grants Reviewed

Public schools in Oregon, like in many other states, are struggling to recruit and retain teachers, bus drivers, and many other important roles. Oregon House Bill 4030, in the 2022 Regular Session, was passed to help provide some immediate relief. Among other things, it provided over $78 Million for Recruitment and Retention Grants for K-12 schools.

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) provided school districts with information & guidance on what the grant can be used for, how to apply for the grant, and a template they can use. You can find this information, as well as other useful info like what the allocations to each district would be on their Education Staff Retention and Recruitment Grants web page.

We reviewed the grant applications for the top 10 (by enrollment) school districts in Oregon and put together this summary to highlight how much money they were awarded, if all staff were provided input, if a bonus payment to staff was included, and a brief description of their main objectives & actions. You can download the PDF here or see the picture below.

The Beaverton School District stands alone as the only district reviewed that did not use the funds for recruitment or retention bonuses. We reached out to Beaverton SD to obtain the results of the “Retention & Recruitment” survey they sent out, and we were very surprised by the results!

Of the 842 survey responses, 542 people put “Retention Bonus” as their highest priority

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed in Beaverton selected a Retention Bonus as their highest priority, yet the district chose not to provide one with these funds. Instead they planned to use it for an array of objectives, including one of the lowest on the priority list from the staff: stipends for affinity group leaders.

Weighted scores provide another point-of-view of what the staff’s priorities were – Retention Bonus is still on top

For any curious “data geeks” out there, the weighted scoring method above was a simple, descriptive analysis done by assigning point values to the rankings for each response. Each respondent to the survey ranked the 8 choices from top to bottom. For our analysis, 1st priority was given 8 points, 2nd priority was given 7 points, and so on.

Clearly the staff wanted that retention bonus, followed up by substitute & classified staff training, and possibly mentors for licensed staff. However, as you saw in our review, Beaverton’s district leaders went in a different direction. As the kids might say… OOF!

To be fair, just prior to submitting their HB4030 grant application, the Beaverton SD had finally come to an agreement on a new contract with the teachers union. That contract included a pair of retention bonuses, one for past service and one for future service. However, there’s no mention that this grant funded much of the money they would give to teachers. One could argue the union should have pushed for more, especially given how Beaverton continues to operate with some of the highest median class sizes in the state of Oregon.