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Kent County Public School staffing shortages a ‘microcosm’ of what is happening across the state

propane school bus photo

Bus Drivers, substitute teachers biggest need heading into new school year

As Grand Rapids Public Schools welcomes students back Tuesday for first day of the 2022-2023 academic year, districts across Kent County are all grappling with severe staffing shortages.

According to the Kent Intermediate School District, there are over 100 full and part time positions at public schools across the county, with bus drivers and substitute teachers at the forefront of school needs.

Officials say, with the new school year set to begin this week, districts like Grand Rapids Public Schools face a shortage of teachers, administrators, coaches, janitorial staff and other positions that remain unfilled.

Part of the problem, education officials told WGVU, is that staffing shortages are not just a problem plaguing the education field, as the pandemic created a need for workers in several other industries like health care or manufacturing, and districts are having to compete with those fields for qualified workers.

Kent ISD officials say what is happening in West Michigan is a microcosm of what is happening across the state.

Earlier this summer, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Michigan’s budget, which included $10,000 in tuition for future Michigan educators, as well as $9,600 stipends a semester for student teachers as a way of pointing potential teachers towards a career in education.

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