Program aims to keep Yuma teachers employed during breaks

Posted: Monday, February 29, 2016 6:30 pm

By Amy Crawford, Yuma Sun staff writer

A new movement seeks to provide Yuma County teachers with supplemental income during school breaks to help them stay in the community.

Summer Works in Yuma aims to pair teachers with local businesses for five to eight weeks during the summer or winter to help teachers out financially, and to give them some stability, said John Courtis, executive director of the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce.

“We want to make sure that these young teachers know that Yuma’s interested in their success,” Courtis said.

Teachers are in a unique position, Courtis said, in that they have already been vetted and have references checked and are ready to work.

Businesses need workers in the summer, Courtis said, when regular workers head out for vacation and projects get waylaid. Teachers can step in to fill the gap, he said.

The program will be exclusively for teachers, Courtis said, and not open to the general public.

“Most teachers quit within the first five years,” Courtis said.

To stop that trend, the Greater Yuma Economic Development Corp, NexGen and the Chamber of Commerce came up with the Summer Works in Yuma initiative as an attraction and retention tool.

“How can we as a community let our teachers know — hang in there, stick with us, we’ll support you, we’ll do what we can as a community to let you know that we understand your plight.”

The average starting salary for an Arizona teacher in 2012-2013 was $31,874, according to the National Education Association web site.

Crane School District starts new teachers with a bachelor’s degree out at $31,000, according to the district’s Certified Open Range Salary Schedule. District 1 teachers start out at $31,098 and may receive performance pay up to $5,900 under Prop 301. Yuma Union High School District new teachers are paid $30,300. Information for other school districts in Yuma County was unavailable.

“We think that if we can have teachers with money in their pocket, and a community that really extends a welcome mat to them, and are inclusive, we’ll keep them.”

To learn more about the program visit or call the chamber of commerce at (928) 782-2567.