A recent job fair attracted over 100 potential candidates for various support jobs in the Reading School District.
Recruiting at the event at Central Middle School, 215 N. 12th St., focused on ranking teacher aides and other paraprofessionals, school security guards and food service positions, care and maintenance, district superintendent Dr. Jennifer Murray said Wednesday. at a school council meeting.
“The total number of attendees at the job fair was 158 people, and 85 applications were launched and submitted that day,” Murray said, noting that more than 100 interviews took place onsite during the event. four hours and that 42 conditional offers were made. “Fifteen of them were for safe school officers.”
Representatives of the state migrant education program; the Berks County Intermediate Unit, which provides substitute teaching services; and Durham Transportation, the Illinois-based company that provides bus service to the district, also attended the event.
“One of the things we saw at our job fair was that the requirement to have a high school diploma or high school diploma was a barrier for some of our candidates,” said said Murray. “So I think going forward, we’re going to need resources for those people to help them meet that requirement for us to move forward.”
Thanks to recent strategies, the district is getting closer to filling openings in a range of positions.
Like other school districts across the United States, Reading is struggling to find enough teachers, substitutes, catering workers, aides and other workers.
But in less than two months, the number of combined openings for all jobs dropped significantly to the 65 listed on the district’s website Thursday, from more than 200 in July.
The need for teachers remains the greatest.
Thirty-one, or nearly half, of the current job openings are for teaching positions: six in elementary schools, nine in high school and 16 in district colleges.
The lack of adequate staffing has left certified teachers, aides and other professionals struggling and some students have been underserved over the past school year, according to members of the district’s teachers’ and support professionals’ unions, which approached the school board in January.
At the time, there were approximately 100 teaching positions and 150 support positions vacant.
Since then, the district has come a long way to fill vacancies, thanks in large part to recruitment and retention incentives rolled out in late 2021.
These include a $1,000 retention bonus paid to existing staff at the end of this year and a $450 bonus for new hires, approved by the school board earlier this year.
The district recently announced a $4 per hour increase in hourly wages paid to its current security staff. The district also increased starting pay for all newly hired security guards to $22 an hour for the 2022-23 school year.
In response to a request last year from students in the district for more school security guards, 56 school security positions have been added for the new school year.
According to the district’s website, only a part-time SSO and a full-time school policeman are still needed.
The district also approved labor agreements with its foodservice and paraprofessional reading associations that raised all current and starting rates to at least $15 an hour.
To apply for a job, visit the Reading School District website.