On a number of occasions, we’ve discussed the difficulty we have had in filling support staff positions in the district.
Despite competitive salaries, excellent benefits and a strong retirement plan, the district continues to struggle to fill bus driver, cook, custodian and classroom paraprofessional positions. Sadly, these challenges are no different than other employers in the region. What city have you driven through where there wasn’t a school bus with a “Now Hiring Drivers!” banner?
So what does this mean for our community? For the first time last week, we had to cancel a bus route that parents rely on to get their children to school. During the past three months, supervisors have been driving buses and cooking in our kitchens, mechanics have been driving buses – even our chief operations officer has pitched in to drive a bus. Substitutes have had to be recruited for some of our most high-needs students when qualified paraprofessionals are lacking. The impact is clear: “Houston, we have a problem!”
Often our support staff members are the unsung heroes of the district. We are fortunate to have great teachers in our classrooms, and they are regularly celebrated – and deservedly so. But rarely mentioned is the impact our children would feel without our bus drivers, custodians, nutrition workers, administrative assistants and other support staff. When they are absent, panic sets in. But when was the last time our parents and community let them know how much they are appreciated? Please join us in saying “thank you” Nov. 18 during Support Staff Appreciation Day.
Beyond expressing gratitude, solutions need to be found to meet the short-staffed state of the district. Our goal is for Durango 9-R to be a premier employer in these employee groups and attract the best and brightest from the area to serve our children. In looking at a number of possible solutions, it is clear that this problem needs action, not admiration.
I make this emphasis today to prepare our community for the possibility of service interruption in addition to asking for help in addressing these critical shortages. If you know someone who is out of work or needs a position that offers competitive wages, paid health and dental benefits, quality training, opportunities for advancement, a strong retirement program and an opportunity to have a positive impact on our children, Durango School District is the place for them. Job experience is not a prerequisite, as training is provided for all available positions. For open positions, visit the “Job Openings” link on the home page of our website, www.durangoschools.org.
We are so proud of all employees who have made the decision to work in our district and serve our children, and I welcome and appreciate your comments about solutions to improve this and all experiences at 9-R. Please feel free to reach out to me.
Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at DSnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.