Schools need more personnel to assist teachers

Taking a look at how paraprofessionals impact the classroom.
Published: Aug. 16, 2023 at 5:09 PM MDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2023 at 1:46 AM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - As of Wednesday, Rapid City Area Schools will have more than 100 new teachers in classrooms around the district. With the increase of teachers, comes an increase in support needed. More than 40 paraprofessional positions are still open and teachers are wondering how they are going to get the in-classroom support they need.

According to the South Dakota Department of Education, paraprofessionals provide support and assist teachers with students. These classroom aides can help with extra tutoring if a teacher is busy, and assist with classroom management. All while under the supervision of a licensed teacher.

“Well because we will have a teacher in front of every single student I’m not worried about student learning happening, but extra support is going to suffer. It’s important to realize that educators are dedicated people, and they are going to do a great job wherever they’re at. We know what we need and not being able to provide that extra support is hard for a district,” said Nicole Swigart, superintendent of RCAS

While the district’s teacher shortage is shrinking, one way to fill some of those support positions would be to hire half-time personnel for jobs such as librarians or bus drivers. One suggestion would be to look for retirees who want to work in the education field while still receiving retirement benefits.

“One way to keep teachers in the profession longer is to hire them as less than half-time people. If they are hired as less than half-time they can both continue to teach, again not full-time but half-time or less and collect the South Dakota retirement system benefits,” said Joseph Graves, Secretary of Education for South Dakota.

While some support positions like paraprofessionals do require a two-year certification, Swigart says there are other ways to help support the teachers and students.

“I would encourage anybody who is interested in supporting staff or supporting students learning, to reach out and check out our volunteer program. Because if we lose instructional support, then having volunteers come in who can read with kindergarten, first and second graders that would be amazing as well,” Swigart continued.

If you would like to look into volunteer opportunities, or any other support positions follow this link. If you would like to apply for any open teaching positions, you can follow this link.