Clark, Champaign schools doing better on staffing

Districts in Clark and Champaign counties are doing “pretty well” on staffing this year after the coronavirus caused shortages last year in many schools.

Most schools have their regular staff positions filled, but are still hiring for specific positions and some substitutes, according to local school leaders.

“We’re doing pretty well. We still have a special education teacher we need to hire. We still have a bus driver and a couple aids we need to hire, but we’re doing interviews. Hopefully we will be ready to go when school starts,” said Northeastern Superintendent John Kronour. “Right now, we’re just trying to finish out making sure that we have all of our regular staff ready.”

Other schools that have filled most of their regular positions for the upcoming school year include Clark-Shawnee, Greenon, Mechanicsburg, Southeastern, Tecumseh, Triad and Urbana.

Although Clark-Shawnee has filled all of their regular positions, they are always looking to hire substitutes.

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“We are always looking for great people to serve as substitute bus drivers, substitute classroom aides, substitute custodians, and substitute cooks. Like more districts, we have enough bus drivers to cover our routes but do not have a deep roster of substitute drivers,” said Clark-Shawnee Superintendent Brian Kuhn.

Graham officials said they feel the shortage more with qualified candidates than in subs.

“I would say there is definitely a shortage of qualified candidates,” said Assistant Superintendent Emily Smith. “The pandemic has really impacted the hiring process for not only schools, but employers all around. We are not noticing as many graduates that have completed the required coursework to become a teacher.”

Unlike most districts, Southeastern and Urbana school officials said they are again experiencing a shortage in substitutes.

“The only shortage we have are with substitutes in all areas. This is not new for districts in the county and across the state. It probably has a lot to do with the inconsistency of scheduled work,” said Superintended David Shea.

Urbana Superintendent Charles Thiel said they have also seen shortages in the candidate pool and late hires.

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“My personal feeling is that the legislative mandates placed on schools, plus the relatively low wage for the level of education, have both reduced the number of people interested in education as a profession,” Thiel added.

Last year, almost all school districts experienced shortages in teacher substitutes and bus drivers, which caused some to rely on virtual learning and combine routes. The shortage was due to COVID-19 and fewer people signing up each year to work as substitutes.

“We were okay except for substitutes. There were parents that had degrees and just trying to help,” Kronour said.

Although many schools are good on staffing this year, some believe there will be another shortage of substitutes.

“I am sure we will have a shortage of subs this year,” said Northwestern Superintendent Jesse Steiner. “I think there will be a shortage of subs because many schools are hiring extra people to assist with closing the learning gap students experienced during COVID.”

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