The Carson City School District Board of Trustees has given its approval to accept applications from retired math teachers and education support personnel to fill vacancies for math and special education paraprofessionals.
The district has been challenged to find positions to fill the empty spots, and under Nevada Revised Statute 286.523, according to Jose Delfin, associate superintendent of human resources, the board can assign any position as a critical labor shortage regardless of when the vacancies occur.
“We are having a hard time with having particular candidates ready to go,” Delfin told the board at the Sept. 14 meeting.
Board President Joe Cacioppo said the trustees appreciate the challenge of finding qualified, permanent math teachers and special education teachers willing to apply.
“I want to make it clear to the public how much we appreciate our substitutes,” he said.
Currently, there are seven special education paraprofessionals needed in Carson City as special education students are one of the most challenging populations to care for in preparing Comprehensive Life Skills courses for students with autism or other needs. Positions usually are open for about three to six months at a time. The classes demand more physical and emotional interaction with the students and result in higher turnover from teachers, especially since the role takes on more “unruly” students with disabilities with extreme behaviors, Delfin told the Appeal.
“It’s just a little bit exacerbated with the pandemic for those who are in jobs with classified licenses who make more money elsewhere,” he said. “We’re all competing in the nation. Folks know they’re in high demand and they can trade up.”
Nevada has a mobile population with teachers who move from district to district. In Carson City, some go from school to school or level to level or assist with the McKinney-Vento Students in Transition program, he said, following a caseload of students in a number of ways.
One math teacher vacancy has been open, and Delfin said university teacher preparation programs are having a hard time keeping up with demand.
“Folks that are majoring in math are going into sciences or engineering or rocket sciences, and they’re not looking at the teaching profession to make a lot of money,” he told the Appeal.
Delfin said these labor shortages are a national problem most school districts face finding particular positions, so he looks to his primary recruitment strategy, which is to grow Carson City’s own teachers.
“We’ve had better success having our kids go through the (University of Nevada, Reno) education program that is offered at Carson High School so they can get at least an idea what it means to be a teacher and observe in classrooms,” Delfin said. “That way, I know if I can at least get them enticed at the high school level and they start looking at college and (Western Nevada College) or what have you, we stand a better chance.”