La Crosse School Disctrict, others, hold career fair

Need for teacher assistants, substitute teachers

The La Crosse School District is looking for new employees at a joint career fair Wednesday afternoon.

Among the workers needed are substitute teachers, something the School District of La Crosse has been lacking.

School officials say substitute teachers are needed every day to fill in for sick or out-of-town teachers.

But the number of substitute teachers is shrinking, forcing schools to look at other options.

Hamilton and SOTA 1 Principal Steve Michaels said it’s getting harder to fill a job when a teacher is gone.

“For instance if we have a new-teacher meeting when we have 30 or more new teachers all missing on the same day, and it happens to be on a Friday perhaps where people are looking to take a personal day before the weekend, we can find ourselves in a bind where we’re not filling all of our positions,” Michaels said.

That bind has forced schools to adjust on the fly.

“Sometimes (it) means a principal or other certified teachers that don’t have a classroom, like a reading specialist or an ELL teacher or an LMC director, might step in to a classroom for part of the time,” Michaels said.

The shortage is why the school district, along with several other organizations, held a career fair Wednesday to find and recruit new employees.

“On a daily basis, we’ll generally have one to three teacher assistant/sub positions that don’t fill, so that’s a great need and one that many people in our area may be able to serve,” Mark White, the school district’s director of human resources, said.

Officials said fewer people are choosing a career in teaching, meaning there’s less options for substitutes.

“Teachers are getting snatched up in the districts. There just aren’t as many people going into the field,” White said.

They hope the career fair will help entice qualified individuals back into education.

“We’re just hitting the beginning of our hiring season for next school year, so it’s a great time for us to be out and making sure what’s available in the district,” White said.

Still, educators said it’s going to take plenty more to get substitutes filling every seat.

“There’s no one thing in isolation that’s going to solve this,” Michaels said.
Officials said recruiting more substitutes may require more benefits and financial compensation.

They also suggest reducing the amount of red tape, like licensing requirements, to recruit more qualified individuals into teaching positions.

Wednesday’s career fair was a collaboration among the City of La Crosse, La Crosse County and the police department.