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Concerns over staffing challenges discussed at Bozeman School Board meeting

Posted at 5:19 PM, Sep 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-15 12:15:21-04

BOZEMAN  — It’s no surprise to hear about staffing problems anywhere in Gallatin County, but this one was very concerning because it’s affecting kids.

“Staffing is at some critical levels in certain, specific areas,” said Interim Superintendent Casey Bertram.

The district has more than 100 open positions they are looking to fill as soon as possible.

“Five custodians, 15 folks in the food service area, First Student is about 7 drivers short,” Bertram said.

And that's just to name a few of the positions—it’s only the third week of classes but already students are seeing the effects of the staff shortage.

“We are in a tough spot as far as food service goes. This week we cut back and are just doing sack lunches. They’re compliant. They meet all the nutritional requirements," said Director of Business Services Mike Waterman. "They’re free as were hot lunches. But we’ve cut back at four of the elementary buildings just to a sack lunch service. The other 4 K5 buildings will go to sack lunch service completely this coming week.”

Two factors caused this change.

“Shortfalls in staff and also our shortfalls in food. We’re not getting our orders from our large suppliers. We’re feeding 3,000 or more students per day. We can’t just run to Costco and buy a bunch of burgers and grill them up,” Waterman said.

But the most significant staffing need right now is affecting special education students.

“Special education paraprofessionals are the most significant need as I see it. Fifteen positions across the district,” Bertram said. “Paraprofessionals, more of a general—transportation, discretionary, noon-duty at some of our middle schools. That equates to 40 positions.”

If you ever wanted to work within the school district, now seems to be the perfect time to apply.