Professor George Theoharis Comments to Arizona Central on School Staff Shortages

From bus drivers to care workers, Arizona schools struggle to find staff. Sometimes, parents fill the gaps

(Arizona Central | Oct. 20, 2022) Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kyrene School District rarely had a waiting list for after-school childcare.
Now? Amidst a staffing shortage and an increasing interest in the program, the waiting list is more than 560 names long.
The district cannot find staff to support its after-school programs, so they cannot accommodate all the families wanting to participate.
And they’re not alone.

In addition to a chronic teacher shortage that has left Arizona relying on long-term substitutes and loosening certification requirements for classroom educators, there is a parallel struggle in school districts: finding non-teaching staff, including hallway monitors, classroom aides and bus drivers. The shortage is complicated by potential budget cuts, competition for workers and parent concerns.
Districts across the state have raised wages, offered bonuses and asked staff to juggle multiple jobs to make it work …

… And amid a broader struggle for businesses to hire employees, districts are not only competing with each other but with other industries, many not bound by public spending limits or decades of strapped budgets.

“It’s important to see the larger context. There are a lot of drivers in this economy — Uber, Lyft, Amazon,” said George Theoharis of Syracuse University, an education researcher who has seen a growth in staff shortages around the country. “I don’t think we have a shortage of drivers. We have a shortage of people who are driving school buses” …