MISSOULA, Mont. — As the end of the school year inches closer, school districts statewide are beginning their staff recruitment efforts for next year.
Two school districts in the state say they are having some issues filling vacancies, an issue they haven't had to deal with in the past.
Missoula County Public Schools and the Bozeman Public Schools say they are in new territory when it comes to low applications for vacant positions.
“Sometimes there are years when we have 40, 50, even upwards of 75 applicants for elementary teaching positions. We don't have that this year,” MCPS human resources supervisor Mischelle Y. Thomas said.
MCPS is looking to fill a variety of positions like teachers, physical therapists, speech pathologists, paraeducators, custodians and food service.
Bozeman School District says they feel comfortable with their teaching staff numbers but are in need of school psychiatrists at all levels.
Bozeman's HR director, Pat Strauss, says the housing market has made a huge impact on their recruitment abilities.
“We had some candidates earlier this spring in March that we wanted to contact,” Strauss said. “We actually did contact to come in for interviews, and they were just really up-front with us and said as they looked at the housing market in Bozeman it was just not a place they could afford to move to.”
Strauss says Bozeman has increased salaries twice this year, but they are still exploring other creative solutions.
“Our superintendent and our board is having discussions with the city of Bozeman to figure out if there are any creative things we can do for employee housing, but we haven't settled on any solutions yet,” Strauss said.
In Missoula, Thomas says they are pursuing a larger net to catch candidates.
“That’s where we have extended to Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn, now we have a presence on LinkedIn,” Thomas said. “I'm advertising teaching positions statewide, but if they are hard to fill positions, we have a national site that we go to.”
Straus says one thing that has helped Bozeman in terms of filling staffing vacancies from the administration side is their development of internal candidates.
He says intern opportunities in the district for potential administrators have kept those positions fairly well filled.