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Western State Bank announces substitute teaching program to benefit employees, USD 457
Garden City, Kan.– Persistent staffing shortages are affecting school districts across the nation, often leading teachers to feel burned out and students at risk of missed learning opportunities. To help address this challenge, Western State Bank in Garden City recently announced a substitute teaching program that will benefit its employees and the local school district.
Through the program, Western State Bank will pay for employees to become certified as substitute teachers, and award additional paid-time-off (PTO) days allowing employees to participate in the program without cutting into their existing PTO.
“Our children and our future workforce are directly affected by the staffing shortage,” Western State Bank President Tyler Whitham said. “The district is working hard to find creative solutions. If we can assist by simply ensuring there are additional responsible, caring adults present to help educate these children and to allow teachers to take much-needed time off, then that’s what we’d like to do.”
As USD 457 kicks off the 2022-2023 school year, the district continues to face multiple teacher vacancies, many of which are being filled by long-term substitutes. According to USD 457 Human Resources Director Dr. Joe Alcorta, this leaves the district with a challenging substitute teacher shortage.
“Generally, educators don’t want to have to take time off,” USD 457 Superintendent Dr. Mike Dominguez said. “But life happens, and we hope to support our teachers by putting this in place. We are very, very humbled that Western State Bank would approach us with this possibility. We’re excited, and we know it’s going to work. We hope other businesses choose to get involved.”
More than half of Western State Bank’s 120 employees work at the bank’s headquarters in Garden City. Many are in non-customer-facing office positions, allowing for more flexibility with work schedules.
“We see this as a benefit to both the school district and our employees,” Western State Bank Human Resources Manager Allie Medina said. “We already have a generous PTO allowance and multiple bank holidays when school is still in session. Now employees have the chance to bring in additional income on their days off, and spend more time with their children if they choose to sub in their classrooms.”
Western State Bank will assist employees with the certification process through an on-site event scheduled for Monday, Aug. 29. The Garden City Police Department and St. Catherine Hospital staff will be in attendance to conduct fingerprinting and TB skin test reading.
Whitham said that he hopes to share what they’ve learned about the certification process and provide consultation on how the program could be implemented in other organizations.
“We just hope that our program will inspire other businesses and organizations to follow suit,” Whitham said. “We believe this is a challenge our community has the power and resources to help address.”