Spokane Public Schools is hoping that higher pay and a chance to help students will be enough to encourage some people to become paraeducators.
The district is hosting a paraeducator job fair on Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at NEWTech Prep, 4141 N. Regal St. Positions are open across the district at all grade levels, from preschool to secondary levels.
Paraeducators provide instruction under the guidance of special education and general education teachers, assist in implementation of student learning plans, help prepare materials, and record student progress.
The district isn’t facing a critical shortage of paraeducators, according to Stephanie Busch, director of staffing and human resources. That’s also true for substitute teachers, where the pool of available workers is recovering from deep shortages last year.
However, the district would like to fill at least several dozen paraeducator slots.
“If we had a hundred great people, we would offer those positions,” Busch said.
An associate degree is preferable, but currently the district is operating under a temporary window that allows it to administer a qualifying test instead. However, that window will close soon.
“So there’s a driving force to hire now,” Busch said.
Paraeducator salaries have risen considerably – from $16.90 per hour last year to $19.75.
“That’s quite a big increase,” Busch said. “The district and the (teachers’) association recognized that these positions are so vital.”
Busch said that paraeducator positions often lead to full-time jobs when employees simultaneously pursue a bachelor’s degree.
“And we also find folks who are not quite ready to commit to a full-time teaching career, but they still love kids, guiding kids and giving back to the community,” Busch said.
The positions also include medical and dental benefits, and follow school hours and the district calendar.
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