GARDEN CITY, Kan. (KSNW) — A bank in western Kansas is giving extra paid time off and paying for employees to become substitute teachers to help combat the teacher shortage in Garden City.

Courtesy: Western State Bank

Western State Bank said in a news release Wednesday that more than half of its 120 employees work at the headquarters in Garden City. Many are in non-customer-facing office positions, allowing for more flexibility with work schedules.

Through the program, the bank will pay for its employees to become certified substitute teachers and award additional paid-time-off (PTO) days, allowing them 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.”

An on-site event scheduled for Monday, Aug. 29, will allow for employees to finish the certification process. The Garden City Police Department and St. Catherine Hospital staff will be in attendance to conduct fingerprinting and TB skin test reading.

“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.”