Dist 117 Fairing Well During Teacher Shortage, Urgent Need Remains for Bus Drivers

By Jeremy Coumbes on July 24, 2022 at 7:00am

District 117 is working to recruit more employees ahead of the new school year.

As school districts across the state and nation struggle with the ongoing shortage of teachers, shortages in support staff are also taking a toll on many districts.

Superintendent Steve Ptacek says, for the most part, Jacksonville District 117 is heading into the new school year in fairly good shape, however, there is one area of need that is cause for major concern.

We always have a shortage but right now our largest shortage that we are concerned about is bus drivers. We may have to talk about being very inventive with our bus routes to ensure that we can meet our needs. But today the bus drivers voted to pass the contract that we’ve been negotiating and the board voted to accept it.

So we’re going to be able to go over that bus contract publicly soon and show it. We’re really hoping that the new numbers are very attractive for individuals to come work for the district. So anyone listening to this who might consider driving a bus, please see what our new numbers are and consider applying.”

Ptacek says District 117 is in better shape than most when it comes to having enough teachers and assistants currently, but there is always a need in each group. “We increased the pay last year with our paraprofessionals and we’re already seeing a positive impact. The statement I just heard from HR is that on a normal year at this point in time we might have fifteen openings and right now we have two.

Yes, we have some teacher openings, but nothing that we’re saying is critical right now. And I hope that over this next year we are able to make the district financially more attractive to incoming teachers also.”

On Wednesday night, the Board of Education unanimously approved the new contract for transportation department employees. The contract is for two full school years and will end in 2024.

TO find out more information or to apply for any open position with Jacksonville School District 117, go to www.jsd117.org and click on the employment tab.