WCSD launches vast recruitment campaign for bus drivers and canteens

The Washoe County School District is considering bounties to recruit more than 150 people to drive school buses, work in school cafeterias, and help clean and disinfect buildings.

“It’s happening in other industries, and it’s not just unique to Washoe County,” Superintendent Kristen McNeill said as the district prepares to launch a massive recruitment drive by advertising in the television, radio, home mailings and billboards.

“It’s one of the tightest job markets I’ve experienced in my 28 years,” McNeill said of her nearly three decades as a district employee.

The district plans to publish recruitment and incentive plans for certain positions, including for bus drivers. It might mean signing bonuses for some.

The district said more than 50 bus drivers are missing, threatening the nearly 9,000 students enrolled in the summer school and thousands more from August, when the 2021 school year- 2022 begins.

The shortage of bus drivers rises to more than 70 if the district includes drivers on long-term leave. The district said it is also using nearly 25 administrative staff a day to help get children to and from school.

One of the solutions proposed if the drivers cannot be hired is to extend the walking zones for elementary school students from 1.25 thousand to 1.5 thousand.

This would mean that 2,000 more students in the district would no longer have transportation to school.

The district is also considering having unique pickup areas in centralized locations. Other options being considered include extending the time students spend on a bus and having drivers double trips.

The cafeteria is seen at Brown Elementary School.  The image is deliberately blurred to hide the faces of the students.

Guards, canteen employees

Staff shortages at school sites are also expected to persist as schools reopen on August 9, 2021.

“The weakest element is the level of staffing,” said Adam Searcy, director of facilities management, of the district’s plans to keep cleaning and sanitation protocols in place.

The district said it was looking to immediately hire 30 people who could work in child care and housekeeping.

The district nutrition services department needs more staff. The district said free meals will be provided again in the next school year, creating a greater need for staff as thousands of children who opted for distance learning last year are returning. in school buildings.

The district also plans to bring students back to typical cafeteria service lines.

“If we were to open our doors tomorrow for the first day of school, we would have 75 openings,” said district nutrition services director Lianka Soliz.

Soliz said there are plans if they aren’t able to hire enough staff, including extending the lunch hour and hiring students.

Successful recruitment in 2020-2021 for substitutes

The district said it hoped to use methods similar to those it recruited substitute teachers last year.

During COVID-19, Governor Steve Sisolak relaxed the alternative standards and those with only a high school diploma could get a license. As part of the recruitment process and with fewer demands, the district was able to hire 300 additional substitutes.

The district human resources manager said people forget about all open positions in the district.

“They think, ‘Oh, I’m not a teacher,’” she said. “We employ a lot of people, not just in education.”

The district said it also needs licensed teachers and classroom assistants, especially those who are trained to work with students with disabilities.

Ellison said the district caters to former employees as well, and while they’re not interested in returning, they use those contacts to ask for referrals.

Siobhan McAndrew tells stories about the people of northern Nevada and covers education in Washoe County. Read his journalism here. Consider supporting his work by subscribing to the Reno Gazette Journal.

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