Statewide and locally, schools deal with staff shortages
By Eugenia Jones
A shortage of school staff across the Commonwealth of Kentucky is making its presence felt in the McCreary County School District. As the local school district reports vacancies across the board, including teacher, custodial, food service, and bus driving positions, McCreary County School District administrators are trying to do the best they can with a bad situation.
A shortage of local bus drivers has been especially frustrating as the district has been forced to combine routes and run double routes due to the shortage in drivers in order to just transport students to/from school. Additionally, the district has offered a variety of incentives in an effort to attract additional bus drivers.
“Since I’ve been here, we have given bus drivers significant pay increases,” McCreary County School Superintendent Corey Keith commented. “We began in January 2020 with a $1.35 per hour pay increase and then recently added another $1.00 per hour pay increase.”
Keith also noted drivers now get their actual experience pay rate instead of the substitute pay rate when they drive field trips. Additionally, the extra pay rate per hour for driving a double route has itself doubled increasing from $2.00 per hour to $4.00.
“Some districts with bus driver shortages are actually cancelling routes, but we don’t want to do that,” Keith noted. “Thus far, we have chosen to continue with routes even if it means students are late arriving to school.”
Mirroring many school districts across the state, Keith noted the McCreary County School District is having difficulty filling certified teaching positions. A lack of substitute teachers has compounded the problem.
“Due to Senate Bill 1, we have increased the opportunities available for individuals to become substitute teachers,” Keith said. “Now, individuals can submit applications to substitute teach if they have a high school diploma plus four years of relevant experience.”
Currently, some vacant full-time teaching positions are being filled by retired teachers.
“I’m glad the State has eased up on restrictions for employing retired teachers and now allows retired teachers to work in the schools for a longer period of time each year,” Keith noted. “This has allowed us to at least get more experience into classrooms in positions where we haven’t been able to hire new, certified teachers.”
Anyone interested in employment opportunities available through the McCreary County School System can contact the Central Office at 606-376-2591 or visit the McCreary County School District website-Employment.