News

Wadsworth Schools fills teaching positions, struggles finding support staff

BY LUKE HOUSER

Nationally, teacher shortages have been a problem in recent years. Thankfully for Wadsworth, hiring teachers has not been much of an issue. However, according to Assistant Superintendent Steve Moore, filling positions like substitute teachers and bus drivers has been difficult.

Akron Public Schools, a neighboring school system, on the other hand, has around 60 open teaching positions that have not been filled.

“We have 660 employees at Wadsworth… Akron probably has 6000 employees,” Moore said. “We have one high school, they have four, five, maybe six high schools… They [have] a lot more, so when they say they’re 60 positions short and we’re only one position short, it might be comparable to 60. So they’re kind of tough to compare.”

Moore stated that here at Wadsworth, the community has been very lucky to have nearly all available teaching positions filled. However, while the teaching positions are full, Wadsworth has not been so fortunate with the substitute teachers and support staff.

“The teaching force is diminished,” Moore said. “It hasn’t really affected us except for the substitute teaching. Five to ten years ago we didn’t really have a sub shortage; it’s really started the last three years.”

Busses line up in the Wadsworth parking lot in order to drive students home at the end of the school day. Last year, mechanics in the school faculty would have to drive the buses when there were not enough drivers to fill all positions. PHOTO BY LUKE HOUSER

Moore also said that all of the schools he works with have experienced similar issues with their support staff in the past few years.

“We had days last year where we had 10 teachers out at the high school and six of them [didn’t] have subs… that’s a huge problem; we still have that problem,” Moore said. 

To combat such issues in the high school, Wadsworth has implemented a system where some of the support staff is paid to be at Wadsworth full-time and then switch around to whatever job needs to be done.

“We added a few permanent subs,” Moore said. “We call them ‘float’ positions. So we added a couple of float support people so that we could put them to help. We had two of those for aids in attendance- we have a float custodian– we have a couple of them. Those were hard to fill. Those have helped us out a bit.”

While float positions have helped combat the lack of support staff in the school district, they have not solved it entirely. Moore mentioned that another way they can fill in positions is through the use of student teachers, who can be used as substitute teachers their second semester. Additionally, the state of Ohio has eased off on the requirements for substitute teachers. They no longer need to have a college degree, instead they need only a high school diploma and the ability to pass the school’s hiring process.

Moore admitted he was concerned about next year because the school will have two of its Spanish teachers leaving. This brings about worry because Spanish teachers, although they are full-time teaching positions, are specialty positions. Specialty staff such as foreign language are very hard positions to fill.

“The community expects a lot out of us, and I’d like to think that we perform well,” Moore said.

Despite the increase of ‘at-home’ jobs and other complications due to COVID-19 in recent years, Wadsworth has been able to almost entirely fill their teaching staff and the large majority of their support staff. Many of the problems that do still exist are being tackled with new programs and eased requirements.

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