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  • Sara Doan, Northeast Arkansas News

Local school districts feel the impact of staff shortages

JONESBORO, Ark- Businesses continue to feel the impact of the staffing shortage, but one industry also seeing it is school districts. Many of which are working around the issue to keep students in the classroom.

Valley View School District Superintendent Bryan Russell says they are one of the multiple districts in the region experiencing a staffing shortage. He says it’s not isolated to one area as a few departments are short-staffed.

"We are not immune from the shortage. From cafeteria workers to bus monitors to and especially classroom teachers and those paraprofessionals that might be out as well. We’re just really in a bind for them,” the superintendent of the almost three thousand student school district said.

The shortage is impacting the entire district but mainly in their lower-level grades. Superintendent Russell says a teacher has to enter quarantine after they or a family member have been exposed to Covid-19. It has resulted in Valley View needing substitute teachers.

They first noticed the issue at the start of the pandemic as many of their substitutes are retirees. But Superintendent Russell tries to ease minds as he says they’re a highly vaccinated school district and have a mask mandate.

“April was difficult, [in] May you almost couldn’t find anyone. There are a lot of retired teachers and people who have retired from one field that have been helping us out as substitute teachers and are part of the elderly population. They have just a fear of being in this environment and contracting Covid-19,” he said in an interview over Zoom.

Other districts are in the same boat, from the Jonesboro Public Schools and Marion School District seeing a shortage in bus drivers.

However, some others have been able to dodge the bullet. The principal of Riverside high school telling KJNB Northeast Arkansas News over text. “…we’ve not had an issue mostly because of we’ve been retaining staff.”

But for Superintendent Russell at Valley View, it’s all hands on deck.

“We’ve had art teachers, music teachers, those kinds of folks. PE teachers [have] stepped up and come up to help with classrooms. We really just need warm bodies to be there with the students to be able to monitor them and take roll,”

Superintendent Russell says all they ask for in substitute teachers is that they enjoy working with kids and can keep control in the classroom. People interested in available positions in the Valley View School District can contact the superintendent’s office.


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