Local districts work to tackle staffing issues

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(ABC 6 News) – Many schools across the country are facing school staffing shortages. For some, it’s in certain areas like paraprofessionals.

School districts in our area are working to make sure this school year is fully staffed and successful. ABC 6 spoke with several districts and the overall consensus is – to work ahead.

"You know, everyone is doing whatever they have to do to get their positions filled," said Willie Tipton, the coordinator of equity for Rochester Public Schools.

"You just basically have to continue to work hard."

Rochester Public Schools said like other districts, it’s struggling to fill positions. Particularly, paraprofessionals and school nurses.

"I think with the pandemic, and historically low unemployment rate, some of these are very challenging jobs," said Karl Bakken, the director of human resources for Rochester Public Schools.

"When it comes to nursing jobs, we’re competing in a medical community where there are jobs and salary differences."

RPS continues to hold job fairs. If it really comes down to it, district employees will help fill in those job gaps. Right now, Bakken said staffing isn’t to that point.

"We will continue to try and hire. We have our substitutes we can bring in. But if we can’t fill some of those positions, then that is a possibility."

Over at Kingsland, the district said it’s ready to go this school year. A big reason behind that is working ahead.

Kingsland superintendent Scott Klavetter explained: "You know the teachers if they’re going to retire, or they’re looking for other opportunities, maybe even moving into a different position within the district. That typically gets worked out in the spring of the year before students even go home for the current summer."

That planning includes talking to college students ready to graduate.

"In a perfect world, as we’re ready to get the year started, you’re not doing a whole lot of hiring and support staff this time of year," added Klavetter.

"Our goal is to always be looking ahead on instructional staff early in the spring and early summer as much as possible."

Over in Albert Lea, the district is seeing a large number of applicants it hasn’t seen in the past.

"It’s about retainment of staff, but also recruitment of staff," shared Albert Lea superintendent Ron Wagner.

"I know Albert Lea is sitting really well right now with its staffing. Our busing is looking really good right now. Our staffing, there’s just a couple of support positions, and due to enrollment increase, which is great for Albert Lea, we’ve added a couple of teachers. We’ve interviewed for those. Our support staff, we’re seeing a number of applicants that we haven’t seen in the past so it’s really exciting."

ABC 6 spoke with Austin Public Schools who said there is a particular need for paraprofessionals.

Over at Kasson-Mantorville, the district increased substitute pay to $135 in an effort to recruit more subs.