Payson schools are on a hiring binge, although the school year has already started.
Already this year, the district has added a first grade teacher — and now a fifth grade teacher because of growing enrollment in elementary school.
In addition, the district is adding a second preschool teacher to support its new program in the Westerly building.
Meanwhile, the district’s scrambling to fill a host of positions thanks to ongoing turnover and the painfully tight labor market.
So if you need a job — check out the district’s website — with a long list of open positions, some part time and others full time with benefits.
As of Wednesday, the district listed 27 open positions on its website. The district is always searching for bus drivers — but the list includes paraprofessionals, teachers for science, reading, math, special education, bilingual education and social studies, office technicians, custodians, technology specialists and a slew of coaching positions.
You can apply for any of those jobs by going to https://paysonunified.tedk12.com/hire/index.aspx.
Most of those positions are included in the current budget — but remain empty either because of turnover or because the district couldn’t find anyone before school started.
The district is enjoying a rare, financially good year — thanks to millions in federal pandemic funding.
In addition, the district’s enrollment has risen significantly since schools resumed in-person classes after two years of pandemic enrollment decline.
The pandemic produced a big enrollment decline for most of the state’s district public schools last year — with Payson losing hundreds of students. Fortunately, almost all of those students reappeared this year with the full return to in-class instruction. So the current-year funding model has finally proved helpful.
At week six in the school year, the district has 2,359 students. That’s down about 10 students from the same time last year. But it’s an increase of more than 350 from the same week two years ago — with the pandemic at its height when it comes to school disruptions.
In addition, the district received several million dollars in federal pandemic relief funding. The district spent a chunk of that money on technology, computers and other projects — but still wound up with the biggest reserve fund in years.
Still, Arizona’s teacher shortage remains serious. The state has among the lowest teacher salaries and largest average class sizes in the state.
The state started the year with an estimated 2,200 teacher openings — and a lot of teachers now in subjects outside of their degrees and credentials.
The legislature responded by waiving the need for teachers to even have a college degree to teach while they work on getting additional training.
The district has five teachers on emergency credentials.
Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman says the vacancies are leading to higher teacher burnout, which ultimately impacts the students.
“Unfortunately, we do continue to have a dire, severe teacher shortage across the state in Arizona. It’s very frustrating for us to see this, especially knowing that we do have a sufficient number of people who do have their teaching certificates in Arizona however, we do have a very difficult time in retaining the teachers in our schools. Arizona does continue to rank the lowest average teacher pay in the country,” Hoffman told Fox10 news.
Some national studies suggest that as many as half of classroom teachers will retire or quit the profession in the next few years.