(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Add the St. Joseph School District to the growing list of employers putting out the help wanted sign.
With the 2021 school year quickly approaching, the school district is looking to fill nearly 60 positions within the district, ranging from certified teachers to classified staff members.
"We're going to be replacing more teachers this year than the average year; not substantially," said Brian Kraus, the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources. "I would say we're probably going to be in the 135-140 range when it's all said and done."
Kraus said in previous years, the district's turnover rate is typically 120 certified teachers, not including classified positions. Adding the pandemic played a big role in teachers retiring and teachers leaving after the grinding year.
The three biggest concern areas for the district are hiring for math, science and special education, Kraus saying the state of Missouri concerns over these areas as well.
“Statewide there are 46 science openings, 75 in special ed., and 64 in math, and we’re in the middle of July. Most of the people who want jobs have them already," said Kraus.
Kraus mentioned another statistic that affects the teaching world in Missouri very greatly, saying the State Department of Education said the enrollment in teacher preparation programs has dropped 25% in the last four years.
While schools struggle each year to retain teachers, the St. Joe School District is offering programs to current teachers and those interested in joining the teacher workforce.
“We try to get people through what’s called 'Transition to Teaching' Programs. It might be someone whose bachelor’s degree is not in education but has decided that they want to become a teacher. That’s the avenue we can bring them in and get them temporary certification to be a teacher," Kraus explained. Adding the 'Grow your Own' program this year as well. "We have 17 people that we are giving financial assistance to and their part of the bargain is that for every year we give them financial assistance, they are guaranteeing that they are going to teach with us for one year.”
The district will implement the 'Career Pathway for the Teaching Professions' program in the fall at Hillyard Technical Center. This new program is designed for students that have an interest in becoming teachers. The two-year program allows up to 40 students to gain experience in high school who hope to go on to pursue a teaching career in college.
Despite job vacancies, the district says they are on par for hiring teachers this upcoming school year. "We've done this too many times to get nervous about it. I mean, it is what it is. We recruit as far and as wide as we can."
The district will be eligible to apply for two government grants in the upcoming months. The first is a Grow Your Own grant for which we could receive up to $10,000. The other is a teacher retention grant for up to $592,000. The application for both is available on August 1st and the applications must be submitted no later than January 31, 2022.
A full list of open positions within the St. Joseph School District can be found here.