Staffing shortages plague many Utah school districts on 1st day of school

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

SALT LAKE CITY — Ready or not, Monday was the first day of school for many kids in Utah.

KSL found many school districts were dealing with some major staffing shortages. In some cases, they used creative measures to get by and find qualified candidates.

The Davis School District opened on Monday with 130 open nutrition services positions. Feeding kids at school has arguably never been tougher.

Nutrition services director Natalie Bradford said her staff is really good at problem-solving.

"The last couple of years, we've really exercised our creativity," she said. "Typically, we would like to have 500 employees. So, you could imagine with having 135 openings right now, that causes us to be understaffed by quite a bit."

She's had lunch ladies at parades, and they've gone door-to-door in search of new co-workers. "We've created a modified menu, so the schools that are being hit very heavily with labor shortages right now, we have them on a modified menu," she said.

That has meant choosing easier foods to prepare while maintaining all the nutrition standards.

Davis School District nutritional services workers celebrate the first day of school on Monday.
Davis School District nutritional services workers celebrate the first day of school on Monday. (Photo: Davis School District)

In the Weber School District, there's another kind of shortage, teacher's aides.

"We're definitely seeing more openings right now than we typically do in the past," said Nichole Meibos, the human resources director at Weber School District.

There are about 110 teacher aide openings. More than half of those are needed to help special education students.

Quin Carlinskey, special education director at the Weber School District, said, "It takes more staff to take care of their needs. It can be anywhere from personal care to behavioral supports, to the academics that they're working on."

And while they may not always be able to compete with rising wages for many hourly jobs, they say they can offer something else.

"There is just really nothing more rewarding than working with our kids. To be able to have the opportunity to see the light go on when something goes right for a student and being there for them when maybe they're struggling," Meibos said.

You can find career opportunities at the Weber School District here and Davis School District here.

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Utah K-12 educationUtahDavis CountyEducationHome & Family
Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.


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