Hardin County Schools and Elizabethtown Independent Schools are in the midst of looking for employees to fill teacher and other positions.
Mike Lawson, HCS director of human resources and talent recruitment, said the district has about 140 teacher openings.
He said looking at the staff, approximately 25 percent of the certified staff could retire at any point given a number of factors.
Coming out of the last school year, Lawson said some teachers had about 28 to 29 years in the district.
Lawson said there are a few more open teacher positions than usual this summer and said that’s because of retirements but also the pandemic affecting the workforce.
He also said the county’s military community can lead to openings as families leave the area.
Lawson said bus drivers are another sector that’s been a particularly concern for the district. He also said the pandemic seemed to have a “dramatic effect” on the substitute teacher pool since many of them are retirees. He said these issues seems to be statewide.
The pandemic also affected his and the district’s ability to travel to schools and universities to recruit for the district.
Michelle Motley, EIS director of personnel, said the district currently does not have any major problems when it comes to filling open teacher positions. She also said with Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds through the CARES Act, they’re now able to fill in a few instructional assistants to help in classrooms as well. However, like Hardin County, many teachers have retired, including eight positions this year.
“We’re at the point now where we have a lot of people that have been in our district for a lot of years, and it’s time for them to retire,” Motley said.
Motley also said some younger employees also have had children, creating open positions.
She said the challenge this summer is filling custodial and bus driver positions. While she said she isn’t sure it’s pandemic-driven, workers might be more apprehensive for those who have COVID risk factors since the jobs are more hands-on.
Motley said they have about three or four full-time open custodial positions.
She also said they are still looking for substitute teachers, and said she usually likes to have at least five or six new substitutes each year.
She said during quarantine, substitute teachers were not used as much and returned once in-person classes began again. A few years ago, the district raised the pay rate for substitutes.
At the last HCS board of education meeting, members discussed possibly increasing wages for substitute teachers and bus drivers. Lawson said they’re doing what they can to compete with other employers.
Motley said EIS currently is trying to get out on social media to get interested people to be bus drivers to earn extra money in the morning and afternoon. Motley also said the district has been working with Goodwill Works to find possible employees.
“It’s just really hard right now to get people that want to work and get back there, get back into that workforce,” Motley said.
Lawson said he encourages anyone interested to apply if they’re qualified.
“I think education is a very rewarding field, whether as a certified member or classified as being able to serve the community and doing everything to put kids in a position to be successful,” Lawson said.