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Omaha Public Schools Gives Updates on Open Teacher and Staff Positions

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – Days after the Omaha Education Association said Omaha public schools still had 200 teaching positions open after many left late last year, the school board made the update on the matter at its regular meeting on Monday evening.

Charles Wakefield, OPS Chief Operating Officer, also currently oversees the human resources department and provided the board with the most recent staffing update.

Wakefield says that at the primary and secondary levels, more than 96% of teaching positions have been filled. But for elementary schools, 84 positions are excluded from this number, and for secondary schools, 75 are excluded. Wakefield says it’s because they’ve increased the number of students in classrooms to help alleviate the shortage, and they want the percentages to reflect that.

“The little story is that compared to two months ago, we’re in a much better place,” he said. “But we are not perfect, teachers are having a tougher time this year than in the past, they will have slightly larger classes, we have had to plan for unfilled positions.”

The district dug deep to fill positions, including moving 65 employees from the central office. Instead of serving in their district support roles, they will be back in classrooms this year.

“They are going back to a classroom that they may not have been in four, five, even 10 years in some cases, but they recognize the importance of working with staff every day and working with children every day,” Wakefield said.

At the end of last year, 497 teachers resigned from the OPS and 97 retired. The district says it has hired 403 new teachers for next fall. In a typical year, they hire an average of 372 teachers before the start of the year.

The district is also touting the success of the teachers’ allowance that is now being offered. They say 33 of the 50 student teachers who received the stipend in the spring of 2022 accepted full-time positions in the district this fall.

The OPS says there are around 1,000 replacements available for the coming year, some of whom may become long-term replacements or full-time teachers due to a staffing shortage.

But teachers are not the only positions to be filled.

When it comes to classified staff, para-educators, security, office staff, etc., the district has only 76.6% of positions filled. The OPS says this is normal for this time of year and expects it to increase, but it continues to recruit relentlessly and unabashedly.

On Saturday, the OPS held a job fair in Benson Days, where it hired 73 people, including 27 para-educators and 15 guards.

Only 77% of nutrition service positions are filled and 82% of bus driver positions are filled.

The district says it has billboards, cold calling, online and radio advertising, and setting up an SMS recruiting platform to help recruit.

They are also working on the implementation of location-based advertising, which will run OPS ads on thousands of apps and embed them in news articles, social media, etc., both locally and nationally.

Digital Director Gina Dvorak contributed to this report.

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