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Northeast Ohio schools need substitute teachers, custodians, support staff heading into new academic year

Published: Aug. 12, 2021 at 10:20 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The nationwide worker shortage is affecting Northeast Ohio schools, and administrators say there’s also an increase in staffing needed this year in general.

Madison Fitchko’s about to start middle school this year.

“I’m excited to see the new experience of being more independent,” she said.

Her success in that though will likely depend on a routine that can easily be thrown off by a lack of school staffing.

Franco Gallo says the 14 districts he helps hire for in Lorain County are much more desperate for staff this year than years past.

“Just like all the other professions, there are folks who are re-evaluating what they want to do,” he said. “In years past, we had some places that had these needs and this year everyone has these needs and some places it’s pretty bad.”

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Gallo says ongoing increased cleaning and COVID-19 safety precautions have upped the need for food service workers and custodians too.

“There’s more staff. There’s more supplies needed,” he said.

He’s also looking for dozens of people willing to fill in as substitute teachers on occasion.

“Teachers get sick, just like anybody else, and we need those people to step in so they can continue the education,” he said.

He says when there aren’t enough subs, students often have to combine classrooms or even revert to remote learning for the day. That can be tough on the working parents and the kids themselves.

“The students want that consistency. Even when their teacher is out, still seeing their friends and doing the lessons. They don’t want to stay home if they don’t have to,” Gallo said.

Fitchko’s mom, Kristyn, is on Avon’s list of substitute teachers.

“I could go in daily if I needed to,” she said. “It gives me the flexibility to accept what I can accept and do and decline if I need to.”

She’s hoping when others hear about the true need this year, they will consider.

Gallo says people can find and apply for open positions on the county’s website.

“Any school district that can get somebody on their staff will take it. Even if it means an October start,” he said.

A spokesperson for Cleveland schools tells us the system has more positions open this year than usual, but “schools should be well staffed when students return to school.”

CMSD’s biggest needs also consist of substitute teachers, secretaries and custodians.

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