School district bus, food and sub staffing shortages still prevalent

New bonus incentives being offered

[ By Kendra Walker ]

Since the beginning of the school year the Gunnison Watershed School District, specifically the Crested Butte Community School, has faced staffing shortages for bus drivers, food service workers and substitute teachers. While the search to fill these necessary positions continues, CBCS bus routes, school lunches and teacher bandwidth continue to hang in jeopardy.

Bus drivers and food service staff
According to superintendent Leslie Nichols, there is currently one bus driver in the pipeline working to get trained. “If they successfully complete the training program, they could start in the next couple weeks,” said Nichols. “We would deploy that driver on the Mt. Crested Butte route, which I know is not where the stress is but unless we have two drivers we cannot service CB South.”

At the beginning of the school year, the RTA added a second bus that stops in CB South at 7:40 a.m. to accommodate more passengers given the potential of students using the morning bus. That extra bus will continue until Thanksgiving.

Nichols said that the district has hired two part-time food service workers, which will allow CBCS to keep its emergency sack service running. “We’ve had some interest in the kitchen manager position, but no one has committed yet,” Nichols added.

Bonus program
In an effort to hopefully recruit the staff it needs for CBCS and district-wide, Nichols said the next effort includes a bonus incentive program. “We are working to launch a recruitment and retention campaign for our bus drivers and food service staff and substitute teachers,” she said. This will include bonuses of $2,000 for new and existing bus drivers and new and existing food service staff. A $3,000 bonus will be offered for a kitchen manager at CBCS.

For substitute teachers, the district is offering a $100 bonus for every five days worked. The district is also compensating existing teachers for covering other teachers, at $15 per hour. “I know it’s not much, but it’s our way of recognizing and valuing our teachers for doing extra,” said Nichols. She noted that because the schools can’t just cut their operating hours to accommodate the staffing shortages, she is very appreciative of the team effort that is being put into the current, somewhat stressful day-to-day operations. “That extra work that our teachers do is truly critical for our staying open.”

To apply for an open job position with the school district, visit the district website at gunnisonschools.net and look for “Employment” under the “District” tab.

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