School district faced with filling 26 full-time positions

Sunday, May 12, 2019
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Glendive Schools officials are facing a daunting task this month as they attempt to fill a total of 26 full-time administrative, teaching and secretarial openings for the 2019-2020 school year.

In addition to the full-time positions, there are numerous coaching, paraeducator, bus driver and substitute jobs being advertised by the district.

Glendive Superintendent of Schools Stephen Schreibeis said the 26 openings is the most he has seen since he began working in the Glendive School District in 2014.

He estimated there are about 120 administrative, teaching and secretarial positions in the district’s four schools, putting the number of open slots at about 20 percent.

Three administrative positions – Dawson County High School principal, Jefferson Elementary School principal and the Special Services Director – will be vacant after this school year. Another position that has been difficult to fill in the past – that of the technology coordinator – is also open for the 2019-20 school year.

With a couple of secretary positions open, that leaves nearly 20 teaching positions to fill.

The teaching positions range from elementary classroom teachers to middle school STEM/ math to high school family and consumer science.

Schreibeis said he has been bracing himself for a major exodus of teachers.

“I knew we were going to have (several retirements) this year and next year. I kind of planned on that,” he said.

He noted there is a group of teachers who have been in Glendive for all or the majority of their careers, and that group is now of retirement age. There are four teachers who have submitted retirement paperwork this spring. Special Services Director Robin Gray is also retiring, Schreibeis said.

Aside from retirement, there are a variety of reasons teachers and administrators and other employees move out of the district.

A lot of them move to be closer to family, something Schreibeis said he completely supports.

“The downside is you lose good people,” Schreibeis said.

But with those vacancies come opportunity to fill positions in the district with “highly effective people” who will work toward the district’s goals, Schreibeis said.

School officials have worked their way through several teacher job fairs in the region to try to find young teachers to recruit.

Recruiting teachers who understand what life in Eastern Montana offers and what the Glendive School District is about is an important part of the process.

“The hard part for us is Eastern Montana ... a lot of people want to be around the trees and the mountains. We want it to be the right fit – we want it to be the right fit for us and for them,” Schreibeis said.

The job fairs attract a lot of new teachers. While new teachers bring energy and enthusiasm to the job, they are inexperienced in classroom management, which poses challenges in the first years of teaching.

“There’s no first year teacher that’s going to be highly effective. They might be really good people and would do a great job, but the hardest part about teaching is the classroom management,” Schreibeis said.

This creates the need for a teacher mentorship program, another future focus of the district.

The district also uses technology as a recruitment tool.

He said positions are posted on the state Office of Public Instruction website and another site that is focused on teaching positions, and in some cases, like the tech coordinator, the district advertises on Indeed.com.

“It’s just trying to be strategic about where we will post,” Schreibeis said.

As for administrative positions, they are trying different avenues, including a Twitter video, to get the word out about the positions.

Aside from online advertising, the school uses technology in the form of web-based video programs for initial interviews for some of the positions, including administration and tech coordinator. Schreibeis said the main purpose of those interviews is to get the applicants familiar with the Glendive area and the goals of the school district before the hiring process moves forward.

“Now it’s all about the right fit,” Schreibeis said. “We’re not in a place where they’re going to come here and have an easy time. We’re moving and changing and that causes friction.”

He said by the time candidates make their way to Glendive for an interview, they already know what the expectations are.

As for classified roles, like the secretary and accounts payable positions, there are often several local applicants. Schreibeis said there have been several applicants submitted for those jobs, but with the priority put on filling the administrative and teaching positions, hiring for classified jobs is on the back burner for now.

The good news is, applications are coming in for all open positions.

And while getting the positions filled as soon as possible is the goal, Schreibeis knows that that will be a challenge.

“We are really passionate and focused about finding people who love others, who want to pour their lives into helping someone get better – and that’s not only students but our other staff members – and who are willing to grow every single day and get better,” Schreibeis said. “And (someone) who can deal with conflict – because that’s life in general.”

Reach Jamie Crisafulli at rreditor@rangerreview.com.

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