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Battle Creek Public Schools looking to attract educators with financial housing incentives

District getting creative during nationwide teacher shortage
Mr. Johnson teaching his first class of the day
Posted at 7:58 AM, Sep 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-23 07:58:01-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Local school districts are getting creative to attract talent during the nationwide teacher shortage with incentives, bonuses and other perks. Battle Creek Public Schools is helping educators with rent and housings costs up to $20,000 if they live within the school district.

Patrick Johnson is a an 8th grade English teacher at Northwestern Middle School. His days are full of teaching and coaching.

"I've coached volleyball at [Battle Creek Central High School]. I've coached football at the middle school, track and field, just about everything," Johnson said with a smile.

Mr. Johnson teaching his first class of the day

After his long days on the job he heads to his home in Battle Creek, a home that the district he's worked at for 21 years now, helps out with financially. It's part of the Battle Creek Public Schools Housing and Rental Incentive Program - a partnership between the City of Battle Creek, the school district, and the W.K. Kelogg Foundation.

"We are one of the few districts that offer such a program," BCPS Director of Transformation Dr. Anita Harvey said.

The district says the goal of the incentive is to help educators with housing and rental costs, attract talent to the district and have educators live in the communities they work in.

“Everyone benefits when teachers and administrators live in a community where they serve," Dr. Harvey said.

When the program began in 2018, up to $10,000 dollars was available for downpayment assistance for educators on a home, now the amount has gone up to $20,000 dollars for a home and up to $4,500 hundred dollars for rental assistance per year.

The incentives are split up into target areas: The primary target area for downpayment assistance is in downtown Battle Creek. The secondary target area is within the school district, just outside of downtown. Rental assistance covers most of the immediate downtown area.

Program Target Areas

In a time when teacher shortages are impacting most local school districts, BCPS is hoping to turn the tide with these strong financial incentives to help attract talent to them, and they say it's working.

“It's certainly helping with that," Dr. Harvey said. "We still have a challenge with staffing, yet at the same time we have a strategy to obtain and retain certified staff."

As of December 2021, 29 educators have used the grant on downpayment assistance and 12 educators have benefitted from the rental assistance.

Mr. Johnson received $10,000 dollars in renovation funds that he had to match, also a part of the program. He got some work done around his house, something he's wanted to do for a while.

"We did the railing down there," Johnson said as he walked around his home.

Johnson also received some new windows, new flooring and new roofing. And while he says the money helps, he adds that he hasn't been teaching at the district for 21 years to simply receive help with renovations. He teaches young students because he loves what he does.

"I just love seeing kids grow, seeing the light bulb come on in their head, like I can do this. I can be successful," Johnson said.

The district plans on renewing the program and will give out the funding to qualified educators and administrators until the funding runs out. To apply and learn more you can visit here.