A shortage of educators and other school workers has led to increased recruitment and the development of teacher academies.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — As students and teachers return to school, a looming problem affects many aspects of the education system: staffing shortages. This is felt across the country and is forcing many districts to get creative.
“Almost all sectors of employers struggle to find staff, and schools are no different,” assistant Dave Rodgers. superintendent of human resources and legal services with Kent ISD, said. “As people-oriented organizations, we certainly rely on the right staff to provide the classrooms, programs, and services that our families and students deserve. When these staffing levels are sometimes insufficient, it can become difficult to maintain the level of quality programs and services that our students deserve and to which we are committed.
“In Muskegon County right now, we have about 130 schools opening. Then you add bus drivers and things, it’s a bit more,” said Kelly Powers, associate superintendent of social services at Muskegon Area ISD.” For the first time in my career, and I’ve been in human resources for a few years now, we’re not only competing against other schools and other counties, we’re competing against other schools and other counties. other businesses and other industries in our county.
Across the country there is an overwhelming shortage of teachers, bus drivers, food service workers and the list goes on. To alleviate these problems, some districts, such as Kent ISD, have established teacher academies where students train to become teachers.
“It provides an early pathway for area high school students to actively pursue and progress towards careers in education, and specifically teaching,” Rodgers said. “We have excellent data for those who have gone through this first cohort. It’s really promising, and we are looking to develop this program.
Other districts are taking a different approach, stepping up their recruiting efforts. Muskegon Area ISD recently held a job fair, hoping to fill some of the vacancies.
“We are constantly recruiting. It’s an endless cycle,” Powers said. “Anyone who really has 60 or more credits, an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, etc., talk to your school and call me. We can help you if you want to become a subordinate. There are so many other jobs we have, from food service to maintenance, so many different parts of the education machine, and we provide fantastic training for anyone who wants to get involved. We still have great benefits, we have good salaries, we have retirement options. There are still many things that schools provide.
The Jackson County ISD recently made headlines for offering teachers a $10,000 bonus and student loan forgiveness. There’s also new legislation that Powers says could help motivate people and address ongoing staffing issues.
“One of the things that comes out is those who come into education, the student teachers. There are discussions that the state will provide stipends to help student teachers,” Powers said. “And there is new pension legislation. In the past, retirees were limited in what they could earn as retirees. That has changed, so there are going to be efforts to see if we can bring some of these people back to help temporarily.
Part-time and full-time jobs are available, and districts offer competitive salaries. Powers said the best way to help with staffing issues is to simply get involved.
“I’ve been in teaching, this is my 33rd year, and what a great profession and what a great opportunity to serve children, and today I can serve a lot of adults. It’s fantastic,” said Powers: “We’re all recruiting from the same pool of candidates, but we’re offering good stuff, and we’re offering kids, which is great.”
To view vacancies in Kent ISD, click here. To see what’s available in Muskegon Area ISD, click here.
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