GALLUP, N.M. (KRQE) – After struggling to fill teacher vacancies, the Gallup-McKinley County School district is offering quite a competitive hiring bonus. They say it’s a necessary push to get potential teachers to come to their school district.

“We are constantly looking at better ways at recruiting and retaining staff and teachers and so, it’s an ongoing effort and we are making adjustments every single year in what we are going to do that year and what we find is going to be effective,” said Gallup-McKinley County Schools Superintendent, Mike Hyatt.

After an ongoing challenge to hire and retain teachers, Hyatt says they hope an incentive package worth more than $25,000 will help bring more educators to Gallup. “We have to be strategic in how we attract and offer opportunities for them that we may not find in a metropolitan area and so there are a lot of opportunities in a rural setting. But it’s not a fit for everybody, and so we have to find those people that’s a good fit for our students,” added Hyatt.

The superintendent says other districts are competing for the same pool of employees and the incentive they put out last year of $5,000 wasn’t enough to lure teachers to their district. On Tuesday, with pandemic relief funds, that hiring bonus increased from $18,000 to $22,000.

The superintendent says, the district is looking to fill 20 positions. “Those are due to various reasons for people leaving or the teacher may not have been a good fit or we may have had to make staffing adjustments due to the increase or changes in student populations in different areas of our district,” said Hyatt.

Adding to the large incentive is a moving expense of up to $2,500 dollars as well as free teacher housing. The district says its offer for the hiring bonus is good through February 24. So far, 96 teachers in the district have taken advantage of it.