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KRESA Hopes to Attract More Applicants With New Incentives

Like so many local organizations and businesses, the Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency (KRESA) is facing a worker shortage. Nationally, school districts have been hit exceptionally hard by both the increasing number of educators exiting the field and the decreasing number of qualified candidates entering it. As employers continue to seek creative ways to find and hire eligible candidates, hiring incentives and sign-on bonuses are becoming more common. To fill the more than 50 job openings on its website, KRESA announced a series of incentives for newly hired employees, as well as referral bonuses for current staff members.  

“It is extremely difficult to fill vacancies everywhere, but especially in education,” said Angie Tesman, KRESA Human Resources Administrator. “We need qualified teachers in Pre-K and special education. We have dozens of positions open for paraprofessionals and classroom aides. Our programs need bus drivers and substitutes. It is a daily struggle.” 

KRESA Head Start/GSRP currently has seven openings for lead teachers and nine for associate teachers. “The lack of teachers is impacting students and families,” said Rachel Roberts, KRESA’s Executive Director of Preschool Programs. “There are children who are not having a prekindergarten experience this fall because we don’t have the staff. We have classrooms that are closed.” 

Tesman hopes the newly announced incentives will encourage applicants to consider KRESA. The agency is offering a signing bonus of up to $3,000 for special education teachers, and up to $1,000 for qualified Head Start/GSRP lead teachers. Qualified Head Start/GSRP associate teachers may receive up to $500, and those who are underqualified may receive a bonus of up to $250, plus paid assistance to obtain the needed credential with an additional bonus upon completion. Special education paraprofessionals may qualify for up to $1,000.

In addition to bonuses for new hires, KRESA recently implemented a referral program for its employees. If current employees refer someone to any opening in KRESA Special Education or Head Start/GSRP and they are hired, the employee may receive $100. New hires must not be currently employed at any of the local districts in KRESA’s service area, Tesman said. 

“We want to be competitive, but our local districts are also struggling to fill vacancies. We are on the same team,” she said. 

Despite the challenges facing educators today, Tesman still encourages job seekers to consider the classroom. “KRESA is proud to offer non-financial incentives to its employees as well,” Tesman said. “We provide fantastic benefits, paid time off, insurance, tuition reimbursement, a robust wellness program and a positive workplace culture.” The agency also embraces inclusion and is actively working to become an anti-bias/anti-racist organization. 

“There are so many reasons to join KRESA,” Tesman said. “Our emphasis on our core values of collaboration, innovation, compassion, trustworthiness and respect is agency wide. We believe we are all better together.”

Data collected in a KRESA-wide survey every year supports that claim. In the most recent survey completed in the spring of 2022, more than 92 percent of KRESA employees reported feeling satisfied and engaged in their careers. Approximately 71 percent reported feeling highly satisfied, and 80 percent reported they are highly engaged. 

A complete list of current openings may be found at