Mesquite ISD is looking for ways to fill around 250 open positions in the district.
After an April 30 job fair and a Monday job fair, Mary Randall, assistant superintendent over personnel, said if positions remain open, the district might hold another job fair to recruit more teachers.
“The one we hosted [Monday] had about 60 people register, and about half of that number showed up to participate,” Randall said. “We probably had 3-4 job offers on site at the job fair. We hope there will be more offers that come out of that.”
Randall said while positions across elementary and secondary schools were mostly even, the district saw a high number of specialty and career and technology courses had open positions for middle and high schools.
Mesquite ISD has also utilized other programs to ensure teaching positions are filled, with the help of the district’s paraprofessionals.
“Unfortunately, this past year, we were hit pretty heavily, and we had to start the year with some permanent substitute positions and pay those people the minimum state pay rate,” Randall said. “Those are teachers who are in programs – alternative certification programs who were not quite completely certified and were lacking a certification exam. We were able to quickly hire them and give them a reduced salary.”
Randall said that as the paraprofessionals finished up their program and became eligible for a standard certificate, the district will move them to a regular teacher's pay.
The district plans on utilizing a similar system this coming year.
In addition to using permanent substitute positions to help fill openings, the district has also partnered with Indiana Wesleyan University and Teach Worthy to help paraprofessionals earn their teacher certification while getting hands-on experience in the classroom.
“We're very hopeful that we'll be able to fill the majority of those positions,” Randall said. “Some of those may have to be filled with a permanent sub, and those subs have a degree. They are in an alternative certification program, working toward certification. They're just lacking the exam to become certified. That puts us at an advantage. While we're not able to pay them the full salary of a fully-certified and qualified teacher, they do get the state minimum pay, which is much better than just regular sub teacher pay.”