‘Kids are going to suffer’: Local schools struggle to find staff, call on community to fill slots

ROCKFORD, Wash. — Schools all across eastern Washington are doing their best to serve students. Everyone’s stepping up to help, but the current staffing shortages aren’t sustainable.

The Freeman School District serves about 900 students. Right now, transportation directors are driving bus routes. Teachers are filling in for each other during their prep periods, and principals are back in the classroom. Schools across the area getting creative to fill the need, but this kind of workload won’t last. Freeman’s Superintendent Randy Russell says he would hire 40 people today if he could.

The bigger districts need even more people to come and help.

“All my district’s are telling me we have no substitute teachers. We have no substitute bus drivers. We have no substitute custodians, so we are just in a bind,” he said. “That’s why it’s so important that we get more help because otherwise our kids are going to be the ones that are going to suffer.”

No one wants to see kids suffer after the tough few years they’ve been through. To keep things running smoothly, bus drivers are already picking up kids out of their districts to get them to after-school activities. While local schools will avoid this at all costs, if they can’t find more staff, extracurriculars would be the first to go.

“This is the reality of the situation we’re in. We’re doing the very very best that we can, but we’re not going to be able to sustain this without having more people come back in to help us,” Russell added.

He said if you have the heart and time to serve students, call your local schools or go online to see open positions. Many of the slots they need filled don’t require a lot of training but will go a long way to help kids have a successful school year.

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