The Shawnee Mission School Board unanimously approved four separate contracts with outside agencies on Monday with a total cost of more than $ 3.5 million in an effort to address staff shortages as a new year approaches. another school year that will begin under the cloud of COVID-19.
Students begin returning to class on Thursday, August 12, and the district continues to fight to fully staff certified teacher positions, especially in special education, and classified positions, especially among custodians.
District officials confirmed Monday evening that they plan to start the year 2021-22 on Thursday with 20 vacant teaching positions.
Superintendent Michelle Hubbard said staff shortages are not unique to SMSD.
“The staff shortage we are facing right now is not just a Shawnee Mission issue or a Johnson County issue – it’s a national issue,” Hubbard told the board.
Shawnee Mission hosted a job fair on August 4 for non-teaching positions, and Hubbard said there were about 75 attendees. Those interested in a potential position can find out more online here.
Below is an overview of the details of each contract approved by the Board of Directors on Monday to fill the vacancies. In total, contracts are worth more than $ 3.5 million.
- A contract with Utah-based Supplemental Healthcare will provide speech therapy services up to $ 60,000 and occupational and physiotherapy services up to $ 85,000. This contract also provides cover for certified vacancies valued at $ 206,000, according to board documents. It will be paid into the special education account of operational funds.
- A contract with California-based Therapy Travelers for up to $ 202,800 to pay for the hiring of two teachers, as well as up to $ 176,000 for registered behavior technicians. It will also be paid out of special education operating funds.
- A contract with Maryland-based Maxim Healthcare Services for $ 420,000 for nursing coverage, $ 315,000 for certified teacher coverage, $ 881,000 for paraprofessional coverage and $ 255,000 for technician coverage in recorded behavior. It will also be paid from the special education operating fund.
- A contract renewal with ATS Facility Services for nearly $ 1 million to pay on-call staff – an area with more than 40 vacant positions, according to board documents. This contract allows the board to review it after one year, and allows renewal for up to three years. It will be paid out of general funds.
As part of the staffing discussion, Jessica Hembree, board member for the SM South region, asked if the district pays its classified employees – that is, non-teachers, as on-call staff and classroom helpers – enough to be competitive.
Michael Schumacher, associate superintendent of human resources for SMSD, said the district performs annual scans to ensure its salaries are consistent with those of other districts.
Additionally, Schumacher said the board recently approved an increase for para-educators and assistants.
“Would we like to do more? Of course, but we are consistent in the market, ”said Schumacher.