Kansas City area schools hold recruiting events to fill teacher, staff shortages

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 8:15 PM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Kan. (KCTV) - Local school districts are facing some of the worst staffing shortages they’ve experienced as the school year draws closer.

On Thursday, USD 500 (Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools) held a hiring event at its administrative offices. There were onsite interviews for teachers, as well as classified positions.

Cynthia Fulks, the district’s assistant director of recruitment, said administrators were trying to fill 40-45 certified positions, such as teachers. They were also looking for approximately 100 classified positions, such as paraprofessionals, custodians and other staff members.

“This would represent one of the hardest years we’ve ever had for hiring,” Fulks said. She noted that, in most years, the district had fewer than 15 open certified positions in early August.

KCK is offering robust incentives for new hires, such as a $1,500 signing bonus for full-time employees. In addition, the district provides a variety of incentives in the form of teacher certification and career development programs. Fulks said the incentives appeared to be working, as the district had hired several new employees just in the last few days.

“In this day in age, teachers are looking for more,” Fulks said. “We have instructional coaches roaming the building so, if teachers need help, that’s available. And, because of stress levels, there’s mental health programs for our teachers to participate in as well.”

On the other side of the state line, Kansas City Public Schools has been facing similar challenges.

Jorge Fuller, a recruiter for the district, said the district had 50-60 certified openings and approximately 100 classified openings. Like KCK, the district offers certification programs for college graduates who may not have an education degree but wish to become teachers.

KCPS is holding its own hiring event on Saturday and is offering a signing bonus for new bus drivers.

“Our district motto this year is, ‘Dare to Believe,’” he said. “So, we dare to believe in you coming to KC Public Schools.”

KCTV5 reached out to several local districts to find out what other staffing needs and incentives exist in local schools. Common certified positions in high demand included math, science, and language instructors. Classified positions included bus drivers and paraprofessionals.

The Turner School District reported that it had filled most of its open positions, but was still hiring support staff.

The Shawnee Mission School District said it still had 13 certified vacancies, 86 paraprofessional positions, and 14 food service positions open. A spokesperson wrote that the district offers a “robust benefits package that is paid in full for staff who work .5 or more full time equivalent (FTE). Staff can receive health insurance for the employee paid in full by the district.”

Liberty Public Schools also touted its benefits package, which includes a medical, vision, and dental plan valued at more than $7,500.

Lee’s Summit said it did not have many teacher openings, but does have many support staff positions to fill.

North Kansas City Public Schools also held a hiring event Thursday. A spokesperson said bus drivers were still in high demand for the district, with $1,000 signing bonuses for drivers and a $19/hour starting salary.

Previous coverage:

Teacher shortages spurring 4-day weeks, hefty sign-on bonuses