Local school district starts student loan payoff program

Published: Feb. 25, 2019 at 7:07 PM CST
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"College student loan debt is a major portion of what also people struggle with, so we thought that would be a good way to attract and retain teachers."

As a means to fight the growing teacher shortage in the state, the Oregon School District is debuting the Teacher Loan Payoff Program, which superintendent Tom Mahoney hopes will empower new educators.

"Teachers are craftspeople, they really are artisans and so to allow people to be create and innovative is very important to us and it also then allows them see more value in the work they're doing. So, we have encouraged our staff to be creative and innovative around what our core mission is which is to educate students to be lifelong learners who are productive, responsible citizens,” said Mahoney.

Funded by the non-profit Oregon Schools Foundation and community partners, the new initiative gives teachers who have worked in the district for a minimum of five years up to $5,000 to pay off their student loans.

"Communities are seeing, how can they reach out to their teachers, how can they let them know, your community cares, we want you here and we want to make it a little bit easier for you to be able to live and subsist here," said Jean Swindle, Ph.D., Asst. Professor & Education Dept. Chair for Rockford University.

"The school foundation is partnered with the school district, to continue to better our community. And by doing this program, we are going to be able to recruit better teachers, more teachers and for longevity in our Oregon community," said Lora Stevens McKee, president of the Oregon School Foundation.

To jumpstart the first year of the program, the school district is starting a social media campaign asking for the community's help by making a donation toward the program's $10,000 goal within 30 days.

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