Robbinsdale School District Tries To Fill Staffing Voids in Special Ed
With classes well underway, the Robbinsdale Area School District says it’s short on special education staff.
District officials told the school board this week that there are 47 open educational assistant positions in the special education department.
The district also has 11 open special education teaching positions, two open social worker positions, four open speech pathologist positions and an open nursing position.
The announcement came as the district parted ways with former Superintendent David Engstrom.
“We’ve had to make a little change around educational assistance and ensuring that the coverage is in our center-based classrooms with our most vulnerable students,” said Marti Voight, acting superintendent of Robbinsdale Area Schools. Previously, Voight was assistant superintendent. “But again, having 47 openings has been a challenge.”
The district is considering implementing retention bonuses or other financial incentives for staff that stay with Robbinsdale Area Schools.
“We do know that we have lost [educational assistants] due to [financial incentives],” Voight said. “We don’t offer that currently, I know there’s thoughts about that. Does it really bring people in? Does it keep people with us? What can that look like?”
Robbinsdale School Board Member Caroline Long said she works as a special education teacher.
“Caseload is a huge thing,” Long said. “If I have to have a caseload of 20 or more students, that’s a lot because the paperwork takes a lot of time.”
The district should also consider compensation rates for special education workers, Long said.
“Pay is another thing too,” Long said. “I know you’re here talking about bonuses, but what is that going to look like pay wise going forward? I mean because inflation has gone up, teachers’ pay has not gone up with the rate of inflation.”
The district has contracted with outside agencies to try to fill the positions, but “they’re having a hard time even finding staff for us,” Voight said.
“It’s not sustainable being 40 teachers short,” said Robbinsdale Board Member Helen Bassett.