Stateline schools in need of paras and special education teachers

There is a large gap in positions that are essential to meeting certain students needs, in two of the stateline’s largest school districts.
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 10:25 PM CDT
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - As the school year nears, the pressure increases for district leaders to fill the gaps among teacher positions, some of which are essential.

“We get to the end of summer every year,” said Harlem School District Equity and Community Engagement Director. “So, we’ll obviously, have positions that we are looking to fill.”

But, Jason Blume says recruiting has been a challenge, and Harlem is not alone. Many school districts across the stateline feel they’re hitting a roadblock with hiring, as the academic year quickly approaches.

“We’re continuing to problem solve, so kids have adults in front of them when school starts,” said RPS 205 Chief Human Resources Officer Matt Zediker.

Both Rockford and Harlem, face large employment vacancies in one specific area, paraprofessionals and special education teachers.

“Paraprofessionals, we currently have thirty openings there,” said Blume.

Blume says, paras are vital. They typically work one-on-one with students who have individualized education plans, and play a major role in a student’s learning development.

“It’s really important we have individuals who care about kids, want to support the kids, and want them to be successful,” said Blume.

Zediker says while District 205 is still actively hiring paras, it’s biggest need is in special education, with around twenty open spots.

“They need accommodations and they need modifications to ensure we can give them the opportunity for success,” said Zediker. “Special education teachers have that training.”

Both Blume and Zediker say not only is it crucial that these roles are filled, but it’s even more important the district hires the right person for each job. Despite shortages, they say the staff on hand will give each student the care they need to get a proper education.

“We want to make sure we have good staff to meet our students needs,” said Blume.

“Every student deserves access to the best education possible,” said Zediker.

Zediker adds RPS plans to have hiring events coming up, and the district offers sign-on bonuses to educators who meet the criteria.

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