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Labor shortage leaves school districts struggling to fill open positions

School starts next week for some school districts that are still hiring staff for the upcoming school year.

INDIANAPOLIS — Everywhere you go, everywhere you look, businesses and organizations are hiring. That includes school districts. Many districts are struggling to fill open positions with classes just around the corner.

The school bus parked right in front of North Central High School in Indianapolis is covered with banners advertising the need for drivers. Classes begin in Washington Township Aug. 4.  

"It's very, very tight right now with folks having lots and lots of different opportunities in that hourly market,” said Washington Township Schools human resources director Matt Kaiser. “I think we're lucky. And what distinguishes us a little bit is that opportunity to be with kids and serve your community."

Washington Township Schools has about double the number of normal job openings for this time of year, especially in transportation, custodial, and child nutrition.

But 25 teaching positions are also open. 

"What I'm concerned about is the level of the quality, right?” said Kaiser. “We can do more when we have the right number of hands. So, I am not saying that we are going to have students who aren't going to be receiving what they need. But I think what they experience could be enhanced anytime that we are fully staffed."

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Students return to classes Aug. 3 in New Palestine. The Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County is still advertising for about 10 open teaching positions in the elementary and intermediate schools. Applicants for some teaching positions are few, despite what the district feels is highly competitive pay.  

"Excellent school system here, and we're also in the top 10% in teacher pay and teacher salary,” said New Palestine High School Principal Jim Voelz. “Honestly, our first-year teacher pay is very, very competitive, probably one of the best around. And so, used to be, we probably didn't talk that much about money to start with. But sometimes we start with that."

More than 30 jobs need to be filled in the district, with opportunities inside and outside the classroom.

"To get to be around kids at all, I think it's very rewarding,” said Wes Anderson, Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County director of school and community relations. "But to be able to make a difference in the lives of those kids, it's huge."

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But there's a huge amount of jobs to fill as the classrooms soon will be filled. 

Applicants don't need any experience for most support positions. The district will often pay as you train for the job, like getting a CDL license to drive a school bus.