WEST CHESTER, Ohio – As local school districts put winter vacation further in the mirror, many still face a critical shortage of substitute teachers and bus drivers – leaving classrooms and routes empty every day.
In the local school district of Lakota, Superintendent Matt Miller said 30 to 35 teaching positions were filled, but 71 of those positions were unfilled. More than 20 bus lines were not filled in the morning and afternoon, or around 10% of the lines.
“Our staffing situation since returning from winter vacation has not been good at all,” Miller said. “We sort it by building. “
In many cases, Miller said, that means using other staff in buildings to maintain classes – or combine classrooms. There are 23 buildings in the district, each with a different number of staff calling in sick.
“We’re kind of a mishmash together,” Miller said. “Ideally, we don’t want to put a group of kids in a space like a study room.”
The Friday neighborhood sent a letter to parents, warning families to prepare in case a building has to close due to understaffing. He added that the district recently increased replacement daily rates to $ 125 and that its transportation provider, Petermann, is offering signing bonuses for drivers.
Cincinnati Public Schools have already started to close buildings due to understaffing due to COVID-19. When the district returned from winter vacation last week, it reported that more than 300 employees were sick.
“I don’t have much hope for things to turn around over the weekend,” CPS board member Mike Moroski said ahead of Monday’s board meeting. “I think tonight we’ll be looking at – like last week, whether or not we’re continuing this piecemeal closure or whether we’re closing the entire district.”
Moroski led a social media push ask for more substitute teachers for the neighborhood. But some people, like former Cincinnati City Council member Betsy Sundermann, said they applied and were either left in limbo or turned down because the district did not sign within the 60 days. Moroski said he had had a conversation with the CPS administration about this.
“I have no doubts that we are working on the problems,” Moroski said. “I know there have been a lot of delays and I’m just one person, but I apologize.”
The CPS daily rate for substitute teachers is $ 134. Mason City schools, like Lakota, pay $ 125. However, the district said it plans to increase that rate again soon. He reported 11.5 unfilled teaching positions on Monday.
“Fortunately, last year our school board proactively thought about the most important risk factors for keeping the doors open and that was the understaffing,” said Tracey Carson, district spokesperson.
The district has proposed a bonus pay period structure, which is evaluated at two-week intervals. And the district has reached out to non-traditional candidates, like vacationing students or recent graduates.
“You don’t have to think of it as a forever commitment, but if you can help us during this time,” Carson said.
Other districts report similar needs.
Local Kings schools had 27 absent teachers, 18 positions were unfilled on Monday. He was down five bus drivers. Schools in the city of Middletown reported just three bus drivers, an improvement from last week. There were 16 teachers in quarantine.
Gallatin County schools closed all week due to understaffing
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