BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — When the recess bell hits, playgrounds around Kern County will be filled with students. That is usually the time teachers take their break and when other support staffs come in to supervise the kids. But throughout the county, those crucial support staff positions have been more challenging to fill.
At the moment, Kelsey Bracket with the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District shares that they have all their teaching positions filled and are ready to welcome students back to school. But they still have more than 260 current job openings for those support staff positions, including custodians, bus drivers, yard time aids, and cafeteria workers. Each is an important piece in making a school successfully function.
And that is not the only challenge.
"Where we are really lacking is substitutes," says Bracket.
Bracket says the school district serves more than 19,000 students across Bakersfield, and someone is bound to get sick or need some time off.
"It is not just substitute teachers. It can be a substitute for driving a bus, for an afternoon position, those are very essential positions."
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Over at Wasco, they are seeing the same thing as students who went back to school last week.
Kelly Richers, the superintendent at Wasco Union Elementary, explains the struggle that comes from many of those open positions being part-time due to the state extending school operation hours.
"There aren't enough bodies," says Richers. "When you expand the day to nine and a half hours, you have to double coverage. Now you have to have coverage for the first half of the day, in the second half of the day, and some of those people are only going to be part-time. Where are you going to find enough part-time people to cover 3,600 kids?"
As they try to figure out where they will find the people to take those part-time jobs, they have all but two teacher positions filled. Richers says that's because credentials have been making it harder to fill special teaching roles for years now.
"For instance, we do not have a fully qualified STEM teacher. That STEM teacher is supposed to have math and science credentials. This is one of the failures, if you will, of the legislature or credential department to insist on a double credential for a single subject."
On the overall issue, Richers says the credential process has made it harder not only for Californians to become teachers but for schools to attract out-of-state teachers as they would need additional schooling to teach here and hopes the credential process changes before it's too late.
To view open positions with Wasco Union Elementary School District you can visit their website.