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School districts desperately looking for custodians, bus drivers, substitute teachers and more


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IDAHO FALLS —— Students in eastern Idaho are returning to classrooms and there’s a struggle to fill certain positions.

“I probably lost more than 50 percent of my subs (substitute teachers) in September 2020. It’s been hard to get people to work again after the pandemic,” said Nancy Peterson, substitute placement clerk for Bonneville Joint School District 93.

Some teachers have retired during the COVID-19 pandemic, and others have gone down other paths. That has lead to vacancies at local districts.

“We were short teachers. Math teachers at the high school level have been incredibly difficult to find,” said Fremont School District 215 Superintendent Byron Stutzman. “We’ve been fortunate enough to get all of our positions filled. We moved one teacher from a science position to a math position because he was dually endorsed. Elementary-wise, we had some difficulty hiring teachers. In fact, we had openings right up to almost three days before school started.”

Like District 215, Bonneville has managed to find enough full-time teachers, but they have a huge need for substitute teachers. Peterson explained to that the entire district needs about 150 substitutes on hand to manage teacher absences.

“I’ve got probably 100 now that take jobs off and on. They are not all full-time. That’s one of the advantages of being a sub. You can pick and choose what you want to work and when you want to work but it makes it tough when every teacher in the district wants to take the day off,” she said.

Peterson explained when she started working for the district about three and a half years ago, there were close to 200 substitutes.

Now they are advertising to recruit as many applicants as possible.

“We are giving some bonuses for those who sign up and teach so many days the first month that they are with the district,” Peterson said.

Madison School District 321 is also looking to fill several positions.

“It’s the classified positions that we are struggling a little bit in,” Assistant Superintendent Travis Schwab said. “Our custodial staff is short, our maintenance staff is short, our bus drivers, our paraprofessionals, and our special education department is down a little bit. We are anxiously anticipating when the college students come back because they fill a lot of those positions, but they don’t start until mid-September. We just kind of scramble for a couple of weeks.”

He explained the district needs all the people they can get to come work for those positions.

“Our school board passed a minimum of a 2 percent raise and getting everyone to at least $11 an hour just because we had some positions that were still under $10. Honestly, as a district, we cannot function without our classified staff,” he said.

In Idaho Falls School District 91, spokeswoman Margaret Wimborne says they see some of the same types of challenges.

“This time of year, we are always hiring custodians and other support positions. The market is a little bit tighter than we’ve seen in previous years but this time of year, it’s pretty common for us to be trying to fill those positions,” she said.

For more information about jobs at local districts, visit these links: