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As central Indiana students go back to school, officials say more teachers, drivers needed

Posted at 8:26 AM, Jul 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-27 08:26:56-04

INDIANA — Today is the first day of school for thousands of students across central Indiana.

So far, the 2022-2023 school year has officially started for four area school districts. Many more are slated to start in late July or early August.

Students in four school districts headed back today:

  • Beech Grove City Schools
  • Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation
  • Metropolitan School District of Perry Township
  • Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township

MSD of Perry Township Superintendent Patrick Mapes told WRTV the district is geared up for the new school year.

"We’re ready to go. We’ve been working all summer getting our buildings clean and people hired, and we’re ready for students to come in this morning," Mapes said.

But there are many positions that still need to be filled, he added. Openings in Perry Township include instructional assistant, bus driver and teacher jobs.

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“Probably the transportation piece is going to be the toughest this morning with the weather the way it is. We are down 13 routes right now. We need about 25 extra drivers.” Mapes said.

“We do a nice job in transportation where we train our people. If you don’t have a CDL license, we’ll take and put you in a program where you’ll ride a bus and be a bus monitor. So, we’ll pay you for that, and then you’ll get your training to get your CDL license. Once you have all your time in the seat, you can take a route over for Perry Township schools.

The starting salary for a bus driver at Perry Township schools is $23 per hour, according to Mapes.

Perry Township isn't the only school district experiencing driver shortages. Many schools across central Indiana say they need more people to fill openings.

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What's more, there are more than 2,200 teaching positions that need to be filled across the state. Of those vacancies, more than 500 are in Marion County alone.

In Mairon County, Indianapolis Public Schools has the most vacancies with 359, trailed by Washington Township with 37 and Wayne Township with seven.

Susan Tancock, an associate dean at Ball State University, says these numbers indicate there are going to be gaps in education for Hoosier kids. Whether it be larger class sizes, canceling courses or less support for students who need it, Tancock says this could have a ripple effect on students.

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"The changes that need to happen need to happen quickly," Tancock said. "I get a call every week, sometimes daily, from a principal asking 'Do I have a french teacher? Do I have a chemistry teacher? Do I know anybody who's a teacher that doesn't have a job?'"

Tancock says Ball State saw a dip in enrollment in the education field for a while, but it's starting to climb back up.

Some districts, including IPS, are now offering additional incentives for teachers and staff.

IPS employees are now eligible for bonuses for work done through the COVID-19 pandemic. Also new this year are new mental health resources and planning for teacher flex time.

At Perry Township, Mapes encourages anyone who's interested to apply for jobs on the district's website.