Valdez school district gives $1,500 to each teacher and staff member as thank you during difficult pandemic

Valdez City Schools employs 125 teachers and staff. (Image from the City of Valdez website.)

Valdez City Schools will give $1,500 to each of its teachers and staff members ahead of the holidays. It’s meant to help retain and recruit staff as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, said Jim Nygaard, the district’s interim superintendent.

The money comes from federal COVID relief funds, he said.

“There’s a fatigue that always settles in right before Christmas, and when you mix a little bit of fatigue with a little bit of stress, those people on the front line deserve to be recognized,” he said. “With the COVID money available through this grant, I thought it was very appropriate.”

In April, the Alaska Department of Education and Early Development published a study on teacher retention and recruitment. When asked what could help keep teachers at their posts, the top answer was a competitive salary that covers the cost of living.

Nygaard said those costs have gone up during the pandemic.

“We all buy our groceries at the same place, we all buy our gasoline at the same gas station. Everybody is aware of what the impact of inflation has done to us,” he said.

As teachers adapted to remote learning and school closures, Nygaard said, another thing that’s increased is the community’s appreciation for their work.

Valdez City Schools employs 125 teachers and staff, said Nygaard. 

He said the district is working to get the money to them by Christmas.

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