JACKSONVILLE, Ark. – Christmas is coming early for teachers and staff in the Jacksonville North Pulaski School District. The board recently approved bonuses ahead of the holidays.

It’s all an effort to recruit and retain staff as the teacher shortage continues to impact districts across the state. The Jacksonville North Pulaski School District approved a COVID-19 payment to all employees last year using the federal COVID-19 funds-and will pay out the rest of the recommended $5,000 bonus to licensed employees and $2,500 to support staff this semester.

That meant some staff would not get any money, so the district also approved an extra $500 bonus to all employees.

“If we’re going to expect our staff members to come to work, both licensed and classified, and give 100% then anytime we have funds that we can pay them then we should,” JNPSD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Owoh said.

The district will use its operating fund for that. Dr. Owoh said it’s important to show all staff they are appreciated.

“I have two custodial ladies in our schools that every time they see me, they give me a hug and it’s just because they feel that their district administrators are working for them and with them,” Dr. Owoh said.

Dr. Owah said his goal is to eventually move away from bonuses and instead increase teacher and staff pay each year.