The Lucia Mar Unified School District is offering incentives to attract new employees. Like many employers across the country, the district is facing a worker shortage just as students are heading back to school.
For the Lucia Mar Unified School District, the transportation department is the area of greatest concern. Right now, they have 10 open jobs for bus drivers in the district, and if they don't fill these spots, it could impact field trips and sporting activities.
"Having a shortage of bus drivers, our routes are our priority. Getting students to and from school. So those route's start times and end times might be a little bit different, so it might take students a little bit longer to get home at the end of the day or they might be getting on the bus a little bit earlier but we make sure that our students can get to school," said Jennifer Handy, assistant superintendent of human resources for Lucia Mar.
In an effort to fill substitute teacher positions in the district, the school board increased the substitute teacher pay rate by $25. It was a topic of discussion at the most recent school board meeting.
"I want to say thank you to everyone who steps up to be a substitute for Lucia Mar because we do not take you for granted and we are excited that you are willing to help out and come join our team. So here's a little plug for the substitutes. Thank you," said Dawn Meek, Trustee Area 1 Lucia Mar Board of Education Member.
Handy says the new rate of $175 a day is the highest pay rate for substitute teachers in San Luis Obispo County.
Since the substitute teacher shortage is pandemic-related, it qualifies as a COVID-19 expenditure and the district will use relief funds to subsidize the salary increase.
Handy hopes that people who are staying away from work out of fear of COVID-19 will now feel more comfortable coming back with new health and safety guidelines in place.
"We're excited to say that the new health order says that our employees will be vaccinated or they will be participating in weekly testing starting October 15. So hopefully that helps people feel a little more safe about joining the workforce," Handy said.
District officials tell us long-term substitute teachers can even make up to $195 a day.
The rate of pay for bus drivers in the Lucia Mar Unified School District starts at around $15 per hour but can go up to $24 depending on education and experience.