BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) – When the recess bell rings, playgrounds around Kern County will be filled with college students. This is usually the time when teachers take their break and other support staff come in to supervise the children. But across the county, those crucial support staff positions have been harder to fill.
For now, Kelsey Bracket of the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District shares that they have all their teaching positions filled and are ready to welcome students back to school. But they still have more than 260 current job openings for these support staff positions, including guards, bus drivers, yard helpers and cafeteria workers. Everyone is an important part of the proper functioning of a school.
And that’s not the only challenge.
“Where we’re really lacking are substitutes,” Bracket said.
Bracket says the school district serves more than 19,000 students across Bakersfield, and someone is bound to get sick or need time off.
“It’s not just about substitute teachers. It can replace driving a bus, for an afternoon shift, these are very essential positions.”
In Wasco, they are seeing the same thing as the students who returned to school last week.
Kelly Richers, superintendent of Wasco Union Elementary, explains the struggle that stems from the fact that many of these vacancies are part-time due to the state’s extension of school hours.
“There aren’t enough bodies,” Richers said. “When you extend the day to nine-thirty, you have to double the coverage. Now you have to have coverage for the first half of the day, in the second half of the day, and some of those people are just going to be part-timers. Where are you going to find enough part-timers to cover 3,600 children?”
As they try to figure out where they will find people to fill these part-time jobs, all but two teaching positions are filled. Richers says that’s because credentials have made it harder to get specialist teaching jobs for years now.
“For example, we don’t have a fully qualified STEM teacher. This STEM teacher is supposed to have degrees in math and science. That’s one of the failures, if you will, of the legislature or the Department of degrees to insist on a double degree for a single subject.”
On the general issue, Richers says the accreditation process has made it harder not only for Californians to become teachers, but also for schools to attract teachers from out of state, as they would need extra schooling to teach here and hope the accreditation process changes before it is too much. late.