The new school year is now well underway, and hundreds of schools across Maine still have a lot of job openings they badly need to fill.
From bus drivers and cafeteria workers to teachers and ed techs, many school districts have multiple job openings.
Right now, substitute teachers and ed techs are in high demand to not only fill the vacant positions, but to cover when a teacher or ed tech calls out.
These subs are so vital that Lewiston just gave them pay raises.
The Lewiston School Committee approved pay raises for substitute teachers, ed techs and cafeteria workers to be more competitive with the pay in nearby districts.
Lewiston Middle School is one of the schools desperate for ed techs.
“We have about nine or 10 open positions,” Principal Amanda Winslow said. “But we’ve been able to configure some things, so that we’re still meeting students’ needs as best that we can.”
One School Committee member said good ed techs and support staff are worth their weight in gold.
As for the substitutes filling in for them, the pay for substitute teachers went from $104 a day to $125.
Substitute ed tech pay went from $93 to $112 a day, and cafeteria workers now make $16 an hour.
“If they get raises and stuff like that at schools, my opinion, yeah they do deserve it,” parent Peter Molnar said. “They go through a lot, and they deal with a lot of things.”
“I think it’s great, because this is a very difficult school,” Lewiston substitute teacher Harriet Fakhery said. “It’s not an easy job.”
Melissa Winchester worked as an ed tech at Lewiston Middle School last year, and said ed techs are more than deserving of the pay raise.
“We’re role models and educators,” Winchester said. “And these kids really need positive role models in this school environment. And if they don’t have specific pay, then the positions aren’t going to be filled.”
Winslow hopes community members will step up and apply to be a substitute at the middle school, and she hopes the pay raises help.
“We need as many people as we can to apply to be substitute teachers,” Winslow said.
Lewiston Public Schools just agreed to a 5.5 percent salary increase for professional teachers and staff and a 2 percent stipend for certified staff.
With so much competition among school districts, higher pay is one way to retain and attract the people they need.