CLEVER, Mo. — School districts across the Ozarks are heading into the school year almost if not fully staffed with teachers.
“This year we’ve actually hired 34 positions,” Clever School District Superintendent Dr. Brian Breeden said. “From March until May, we filled a lot of those positions. We’re actually fully staffed right now.”
Breeden said Clever is a growing district. There are just over 1,300 students in pre-k through 12th grade. The district also has 110 teachers.
“I think what’s hit us the hardest the last few years is just substitutes,” Breeden said. “Within our district, our teachers have really stepped up and helped out covering classrooms and we actually tried to have an incentive. If you covered a classroom we’d actually try to pay you for that hour when you actually were able to cover, I think. So that kind of helped that a little bit. But honestly, our staff helping out, that was a big part of it.”
Breeden said the district partners another company to find substitutes. Right now, Clever is focused on hiring more support staff, like paraprofessionals.
“The paraprofessional position is kind of one of those the backbone of your district,” Breeden said. “They kind of go everywhere. They do everything and so a lot of times around the school districts, they might not have had a steady schedule. They don’t get paid the same as a teacher. I think that’s put a lot of extra stress on our paraprofessionals as well. I think a lot of them have went to different places, looked at different things.”
The district needs two more paraprofessionals to be fully staffed in that department. Clever is fully staffed for custodians. But, the district needs a few more bus drivers.
“No matter where you drive around, everyone’s always looking for bus drivers,” Breeden said. “I don’t know if you can never have enough bus drivers because of all the activities that we have during the year and having to have routes and all those different things.”
Springfield Public Schools (SPS) is also looking to fill bus driver positions.
“We at minimum want to hire another 10to 15 [bus drivers],” SPS Deputy Superintendent John Mulford said.. “Our goal is to hire more like 25 to 30 so that we can expand our transportation services to families.”
The district also has ten bus aid positions open. Mulford said these positions don’t require any special certification.
“They support our special needs drivers in helping load and unload students, make sure they’re buckled in safely.”
SPS is almost fully staffed when it comes to teacher. As of Monday, the district had eight vacancies out of its 2,000 teachers. The district is still looking to fill a few more support staff jobs. Mulford said they are staffed 85 percent when it comes to custodians — which makes one custodian for every two SPS buildings.
The district is also looking to hire 30 more paraprofessionals or classroom aids.
“We’re 90 to 93 percent staffed,” Mulford said. “But we need those other positions to truly meet the needs that our students have. They’re used a variety of capacities, including one on one student supports, small group, small classroom settings. So [they’re] just really integral in the learning for our kids.”
One more position needing to be filled is nutritional services. Mulford said the district needs around 30 positions filled. To get people into the schools, Mulford said the district is working on spreading information
School for Clever students starts on August 23. SPS students will start on August 22.