The board approved the motion to spend $881,250 total on the 1,175 retention payments in acknowledgment of a rise in turnover this year. Employees will receive the bonus by Dec. 17.
The percentage of Dripping Springs teachers who left their jobs increased from 10.7% in 2019-20 to 16.6% in 2020-2021 school years, according to a district report presented to the board.
At every campus and in the district as a whole, relocation was the most common reason given for leaving the district, according to the report. The second-most common reason was for family and third was leaving the teaching profession, the report showed.
For all employees, the number of departures increased from 118 in the 2019-20 school year to 170 in 2020-21, with a marked increase in the proportion of employees who left the district being teachers.
The district has not yet received regional and statewide teacher turnover data for the 2020-21 school year, but data from 2019-20 showed Dripping Springs lost a lower percentage of teachers than either the state at large or Region 13, the educational area which includes 17 Central Texas counties.
Board member Stefani Reinold said she was concerned the lump sum, which is the same for every employee regardless of pay grade, was “almost devaluing” to bus drivers, food service workers and other district employees in hard-to-fill positions who have been “all stars” completing tasks outside of their job requirement.
Board member Ron Jones said he was happy to vote to provide the payments, but wished they could also be given to employees who have yet to be hired. Employees entering the board-deemed seven most hard-to-fill positions will continue to be eligible for $500 hiring bonuses.