The Carson City School District has declared new categories for a critical labor shortage seeking to recruit retired public employees to fill open positions under a variety of circumstances.
In addition to last year’s designations of special education and bus drivers, which are eligible for two consecutive years after being approved by the school board and the Nevada Public Employee Retirement System, the district added certified elementary and secondary teaching staff, certified special education staff, deaf and hard of hearing interpreters, custodial staff and English learner paraprofessionals to its list.
Chief Fiscal Officer Andrew Feuling, who presented the item during Tuesday’s board meeting, said district administrators have been working with the human resources department to gauge interest from current retirees.
“I think in larger scope, it recognizes the needs we’re seeing,” he said. “There are still going to be plenty more vacancies we will see.”
Nevada Revised Statute 286.523 allows PERS to rehire certain retired employees on a full-time basis and provide them with their benefits for the Supreme Court, the Nevada System of Higher Education, school districts, charter schools or local governments.
The process of designating a critical labor shortage typically doesn’t occur until the summer or until the beginning of the school year, but Feuling said he brought the item forward now to help raise awareness to staff members who are considering retiring before leaving as the school year ends.
Part of the continuing struggle hiring within the CCSD is Carson City’s aging civilian labor workforce. The city itself has grown by about 12.5% in the last 20 years, while its labor workforce has shrunk, and only about 42.4% of area residents actively are working or looking for work, Feuling said, citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics
Trustee Joe Cacioppo said Carson City’s need to fill its school vacancies is a matter of economics.
“Everybody’s where they want to be,” he said. “Some people can’t come to Carson City or afford to live here.”
The cost of living also has affected decisions to come or go, and pulling willing candidates from Washoe County or from out of state also is becoming increasingly difficult, Feuling said.
He referred to his April 12 presentation on the tentative budget discussing the use of retention and hiring bonuses as incentives, saying often that includes benefits and drawbacks. Lyon County School District has advertised up to $10,000 in signing bonuses on its social media accounts.
But the board members worried about retaining candidates.
“If you can keep the ones you want, the key staff here, that’s the biggest bang for your buck,” Cacioppo said.
Local residents also were concerned about what little impacts hiring bonuses might make on keeping staff members.
“Sourcing is always going to be an issue and you’re trying to attract people with bonuses, and you’re not going to change the salaries,” resident Bepsy Strasburg said. “What I would like to see the board consider is what are the root causes of people leaving. Is it retirements or are they going to another district?”
Wednesday was the final day for current Carson City School District staff members to submit letters of intent for the 2022-23 school year, Feuling said. It’s possible the item will return for action with additional categories to be included as a critical labor shortage depending on the results from letters that have been submitted.
The board voted 6-0 to designate the new positions as a critical labor shortage. Trustee Mike Walker was absent Tuesday.