WEST JORDAN, Utah (ABC4) — In two weeks, students at Jordan School District will be back in the classroom, and as the new year is on the horizon, the district says there are open positions they’re hoping to fill.
Officials say that since the pandemic, they have seen staffing shortages across multiple departments — but now, they are starting to see a rebound. Despite that rebound, there are still a few areas seeing shortages they’re hoping to change.
“We have noticed an uptick in applicants. And so at this point, we’re actually better than we were. The year after COVID was extremely difficult for us as it was across the country for the industry,” Jordan School District Director of Transportation Paul Bergera said.
Some reasons for this, he says, could be more people returning to work, as well as recent pay increases the school district has put in place. Bus drivers now start at $23.57 per hour and bus attendants $17.93. They are looking for around 15 – 20 more bus drivers and seven to eight bus attendants to serve their nearly 200 routes. The district will help pay for CDL training as well.
Bergera shared that with the shortage, some employees in other departments have been approved and trained to help with bus driving.
“We currently have employees in my office in other areas of the district that help us with some of these runs, specifically some single school runs. Our objective would be to just be able to cover those with our own people rather than office staff or people in other departments,” he said.
Marcus Swainston has been with the district for over 10 years as a bus driver and trainer. He says he couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
“Favorite part of the job, hands down, has got to be the adventure you get to go on every day. Like I get an office that moves on wheels, I get different views of the valley all day and I get to interact with all these kids. It’s rewarding, it’s fun,” he said.
He said he saw how hard the pandemic was on bus drivers and it’s encouraging to see more people applying, but they could still use more.
Swainston says it’s been great to work with the recent additions to their team – and he looks forward to helping the next ones who join.
“I noticed with some of the trainees that I get and I train them and they get out, they’re doing the job they actually really love and enjoy the job. They’re kind of at first a little iffy, you know, driving a big 40-foot school bus that can be scary, intimidating, but once they start doing it for a little while, they see the enjoyment that comes from the job.”
Other areas the district is focusing on are cafeteria workers with 45 openings and instructional assistants or educational support professionals in the special education department where they have over 100 open positions.
“Having these instructional assistants, working with students one on one and in small groups on their individual goals is so important,” Mike Trimmell, consultant administrator in the Special Education Department. “This position offers the opportunity to really build relationships with individual students and with their families, and it’s extremely rewarding,” he said.
As far as teachers go, they say things have been looking great and they’re excited to welcome over 400 new teachers for the school year.
For those interested in learning more about openings with the school district, they can go learn more online or visit a job fair they’re hosting on Aug. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Oquirrh Hills Middle School (12949 South 2700 West, Riverton).