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Beaverton School District offering cash incentive to fill staff shortages

The district is hiring bus drivers, nutrition services employees, custodians, paraeducators, school office assistants, as well as substitutes for those positions.

BEAVERTON, Ore. — The Beaverton School District is offering cash incentives as a way to fill hundreds of jobs.

Like so many other districts in Oregon and across the country, Beaverton is dealing with substantial staffing shortages. One area with a major shortage is transportation.

“Every administrator, every supervisor, every dispatcher and mechanic […] those who can, are running bus routes every day," said Shellie Bailey-Shah, spokesperson for Beaverton Schools. "That works in the short term but that also means that they're not doing their jobs as administrators, supervisors, mechanics and dispatchers. So it's a short-term solution. It is not a long-term solution."

That's why the district is offering a $500 incentive for people who choose to stay and new hires signing on to fill shortages in certain departments. 

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Bailey-Shah said the district is hiring for full-time positions. Roles include bus drivers, nutrition services employees, custodians, paraeducators, school office assistants, as well as substitutes for those positions. In total there are more than 550 openings, and that doesn't include the need for licensed substitute teachers who are not eligible for the incentive. That would need to be negotiated with the teacher’s union.

“Nationwide, there's a shortage of substitutes,” said Bailey-Shah. "We hired a lot of teachers this summer, 600-700 teachers, and we pulled from our substitute pool to fill a lot of those positions.”

Hesitancy due to pandemic may play a role in staff shortage

Staffing shortages have been an issue in the past, but the pandemic seems to have made it worse. Bailey-Shah said retired people, for instance, who might be at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 may have normally signed up to be a substitute or bus driver before but now are hesitant to come back.

Regarding safety, Bailey-Shah said only 1.1% of the roughly 40,000 students in the district are quarantining with positive or presumptive positive COVID.

“We have four staff members who are COVID positive or presumptive and that's, you know, in a workforce of 4,600 — so not to make light of them because we obviously care about those people and their health, but across the system I think we’re doing a pretty good job at safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our staff and our students,” Bailey-Shah said.

Did the state vaccine mandate impact the staff shortage?

For the Beaverton School District, the short answer is no.

When it comes to whether the state vaccine mandate that went into effect this week had an impact on staffing numbers, Bailey-Shah said there were only seven full time employees out of roughly 4,600 who did not comply with the mandate, meaning they did not turn in proof of vaccination or an exemption.

RELATED: Vaccination rates high among public workers, educators in Portland

One of them is a teacher. She said eight other staff members are partially compliant in that they have received the first dose of the vaccine. Most of those partly-compliant workers are expected to return fully vaccinated on Nov. 1. At this point, a total of 15 staff members are on unpaid leave.

Bailey-Shah said out of the district’s entire substitute pool, 15 substitutes are not compliant with the vaccine mandate. In the group they call “occasional workers,” which includes coaches and other workers who don’t have a regular schedule, there are about 40 who are out of compliance. 

However, Bailey-Shah said it’s possible some of those people may be waiting to get their vaccine, especially if they are a coach whose sport has not yet started.

Those interested in applying for a job within the Beaverton School District can visit the district's website.