While other school districts throughout Alaska are reporting teacher and support staff shortages, the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District is having fewer hiring woes.
Eight certified teaching and 20 support staff positions are still left to fill, with less than one week left before the Aug. 19 school year start date for most local schools. Kachemak-Selo, Razdolna and Voznesenka schools began Aug. 7, and Port Graham and Nanwalek schools will begin Monday.
“We are fortunate to have very few open positions at the beginning of this year,” said Superintendent Sean Dusek. “The ones that are open are typically hard to fill anytime and we are making plans to fill the gaps if we are unable to find quality staff through the hiring process.”
Positions with multiple openings include custodians, food service employees, elementary teachers and nine special needs aides, said school district spokesperson Pegge Erkeneff. A music teacher, school psychologist, nurse and transportation specialist are among the other open positions, she said.
The school district is currently advertising for 84 job postings.
Other than support staff and teachers, volunteers, coaches and substitute teaching positions are open.
It can be common for positions to remain unfilled by the start of the school year, Erkeneff said. The position will be filled at any point in the year even if a qualified applicant applies after classes start, she said. “The type of qualifications needed, geographical location, and position hours among other things are all elements in filling positions with a qualified applicant,” Erkeneff said.
According to the University of Alaska’s Alaska Teacher Placement program, which was created to help pair unemployed educators with the open positions in the state, Kenai is considered one of The Big Five, mostly urban school districts in Alaska.
On average, the Juneau, Kenai, Mat-Su, Fairbanks and Anchorage school districts have a 9 percent annual staff turnover rate, and are the most likely to have open positions filled, according to the Alaska Teacher Placement program’s website. More than 60 percent of teachers hired in the urban school districts are from Outside, according to the site.
No positions were eliminated or will purposefully be left unfilled for the 2015-2016 school year, Erkeneff said. All open positions have been advertised for, Erkeneff said.
The Board of Education unanimously made the decision to renew all existing tenured and non-tenured teacher contracts at the April 6 board meeting. At the meeting board member Penny Vadla said it was an essential decision this year to make sure the school district did not lose any teachers who may have taken other jobs while they were waiting to hear if they would be able to keep their current ones.
At the same meeting, board member Sunni Hilts said the choice was not “financially solid,” but was an important one.
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