By Heather Graves
BROWN COUNTY – From retail stores and restaurants to daycare centers and school districts – the list of vacancies across the region is long.
Teacher shortages have been a problem school systems have faced for years — and a global pandemic surely hasn’t helped.
Many districts in the region reported that the number of vacancies they had this year was comparable to previous years, however, filling them has proven to be a bit more difficult, and outside-the-box thinking is required. for recruitment.
Ashwaubenon School District assistant superintendent Keith Lucius said Ashwaubenon will have staff positions for teacher retirements or resignations at the end of the year, but the numbers are similar to years of pre-COVID-19 pandemic.
“During the school year, teachers usually don’t leave, it happens after the school year is over,” Lucius said.
He said it’s sometimes a different story for support staff, even more so now with the state’s low unemployment rate.
“Support staff and other positions change during the school year, but we don’t have any positions that we couldn’t find a replacement for,” Lucius said. “It’s always a challenge to find people for our part-time positions. The current low unemployment rate has made it even more difficult to find candidates. The problem is not COVID, but low unemployment.
Seymour School District Superintendent Laurie Asher said the district currently has middle school (grades 3-5) teaching positions available.
“We also have some openings in our support staff, food service and teaching aids,” she said.
Asher said vacancies in the district are comparable to previous years.
“The difference, I think, this year is that we had a lot more openings throughout the school year,” she said. “In the past, most openings took place between April and August. Last year we noticed a different trend. We had vacancies in all areas throughout the school year.
In addition to newspaper ads and education job boards, Asher said the district has implemented a handful of other recruitment methods.
“We started using more general job boards like Indeed,” she said. “The last thing we tried this year is a group of school districts working with the Greater Green Bay Chamber. We hired an external agency to manage a recruitment platform on social networks. It targets certain groups based on our criteria, and we’ve found that TikTok is our biggest market right now.
Asher said it’s been harder to fill positions recently, especially for support staff.
“I don’t think it’s related to COVID,” she said. “One of the challenges is that many people apply, but when we call for an interview, they are not interested or have another job. If we schedule an interview, we have a higher percentage of no-shows for interviews. The other challenge is that it has been difficult to stay competitive with wages. Private companies pay more to hire employees, due to their shortage, and we cannot keep up with their increases, due to the way the state has set our funding. We hear from potential candidates that they can make more money per hour at most companies that post jobs than we do.
Alyson Tress, director of human resources for the Pulaski School District, said the district’s current vacancies are very comparable to previous years and said Pulaski has also partnered with the Chamber and used TikTok as avenues for recruitment.
De Pere School District administrative assistant Tracy Schrader said that, like other districts in the region, vacancies within De Pere School District are similar to previous years, however, support staff positions have been reduced. more difficult to fill.
“For vacancies in support staff, we increased the amount of advertising we did,” Schrader said. “It has been more difficult to fill support staff positions. We have seen fewer applications for support staff positions. This is partly due to the large number of employers looking for entry-level support staff. It appears that COVID-19 has had a negative impact on the hiring of support staff.
Lori Blakeslee, director of communications for the Green Bay School District, said vacancies tend to be fairly consistent from year to year.
“Like many districts, we have hard-to-fill positions, such as technical education teachers, bilingual teachers, and special education teachers,” Blakeslee said.
Like other districts in the area, she said Green Bay has collaborated with the House’s recruitment efforts, including its social media advertising campaign.
Blakeslee said the district also conducted targeted social media campaigns in major Wisconsin metropolitan areas and neighboring states, as well as worked with education programs at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and St. Norbert College.
She said the pandemic has also forced the district to consider other ways to interview and recruit staff.
“Using Zoom to conduct virtual interviews was a big shift,” Blakeslee said. “Virtual career fairs have also become a way to reach education students during COVID.”
She said the nationwide teacher shortage has forced school districts to get more creative in both recruiting and hiring teachers.
“Additionally, filling our hourly positions has become more difficult as the unemployment rate is very low, and in response many employers continue to increase their hourly wages, making it a much more competitive environment,” Blakeslee said. .
Several area school boards have also approved salary increases for all of their staff, in part to stay competitive.
Green Bay recently approved a 4.7% raise for its staff, while the Seymour School Board approved a 3% increase last week.
“The decision to hold a special meeting of the board of directors to approve the increase in the bargaining unit for teachers and paraprofessionals was to ensure that the district was able to offer a competitive salary, as we are currently hiring college graduates for next school year,” said Lori Miron, Chief Human Resources Officer. resource manager for the Green Bay School District, said at the March 28 school board meeting.
District-specific vacancies can be found on each of their respective websites.