‘We’ll make it work’: Routt County schools have dozens of back-to-school vacancies

The Steamboat Springs School District currently has 36 posted jobs with the school scheduled to start this week. (Photo John F. Russell)

Normally, South Routt County School District Superintendent Rim Watson would have ended hiring for the new school year in mid-July. At the beginning of August, a few weeks away from school, he still had several key hires.

The positions had been open all summer without any candidates, Watson said. The district began to plan if it was unable to fill the positions.

“As of August 1, we were able to fabricate responses,” Watson said. “Luckily for us, some responses came through the door and applied for some of our open positions.”

Making those hires was “huge,” Watson said, but he’s still looking to fill several positions when the school year begins.

As students return to schools in Routt County this week, they might as well pass a help-seeking panel, as every district is currently posting job openings. Across the county, there are dozens of jobs for athletic coaches, teachers, goaltenders and counselors that remain open for the start of the school year.

As of Sunday, the Steamboat Springs school district had 36 open positions currently posted on its website, five being para roles, four in consulting, two in technology and seven in athletics, among other openings.

South Routt has seven positions posted, with one as an elementary class teacher. Hayden announces five positions, three of which have been posted since March.

A recent survey by the Colorado Department of Education shows that schools statewide were expected to hire nearly 7,000 teachers for this school year. Of these, around 16% are either still open at the start of the school year, have been filled by a retiring teacher or some other temporary solution.

Each of the county superintendents said they have the staff to start the school year, although this requires some district employees to cover other jobs. For example, in Hayden, an assistant principal will fill a vacant English teacher position to start the year.

“We won’t be short; it will just add a lot of stress, ”said Hayden Superintendent Christy Sinner. “I’m going to take over some of the positions and roles of what needs to be done. … We usually call our team of administrators to help with certain things. So we’ll make it work.

Steamboat Superintendent Brad Meeks said the district was short of counseling and mental health staff to start the year, but principals planned to make sure counseling is available at every school. Hayden is also a social worker and counselor.

“While these don’t necessarily affect the first day of school, they have a huge impact on the health and well-being of our students,” Sinner said. “These are huge positions that we also need to fill. “

Both of those positions have been open all summer, Sinner said. No one applied for the social worker job, and the only candidate for the counselor job was not a good fit. Schools find it difficult to fulfill these advisory roles because the qualifications required limit the pool of potential applicants, Sinner said.

But it’s not just teachers or people with long resumes that districts need to hire. Facilities and food service jobs that do not require state certification are also not filled.

Each district has transport staff to cover their bus routes, but each is short of food service staff. Sinner told Hayden directors will help fill the void until more hires can be made.

“Our directors are going to take numbers so that there are more staff,” Sinner said. “Everyone is just going to get involved to do what we can. “

Steamboat is also short on food service staff, with two full-time positions unfilled. Mark Rydberg, the district finance director, said this would lead the district to streamline its approach and require other school staff to oversee the cafeteria.

“The hot options can be a little different than what we’re used to, and some of them relate to staff and prep time,” Rydberg said. “Keep our fingers crossed that we can hire two more people. “

Pascal Ginesta, Steamboat’s facilities manager, said he lost seven full-time caretakers and two full-time maintenance workers to start the year. Ginesta said the district is working to get a professional cleaning company to help supplement its limited on-call staff.

“We’re kind of moving some things,” Meeks said. “I think we’re in as good shape as we can get at this point, but obviously we’ll keep moving and hiring during the school year if we have to.”

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