WALNUT CREEK, California – Grace Cannon says she can’t wait to start the in-person learning next month at Northgate High School in Walnut Creek.
“I miss my friends,” she said Thursday.
Thanks to special needs. And there is a concern in Mt. The Diablo school district today speaks of a significant shortage of special education assistance to help students like grace in the classroom.
“Break things down for her and repeat it for her. And just be there to support her throughout the day so she can get the most out of her school experience,” said Grace’s mother Traci Cannon.
The head of Mt. Diablo School District human resources John Rubio says he is looking to fill 112 special education assistant positions, which is about one-fifth of the total number of assistants.
“We’re ready to hire and we’re looking for a lot of people,” Rubio said.
The neighborhood sweetens the pot. It offers a bonus of $ 1,500 to those who are hired, $ 500 up front. The job pays up to $ 21 an hour.
“And we’re even exploring a possible retention bonus to keep them here for another year… We are optimistic that these types of incentives will help us,” he said.
The district says the pandemic, which gave birth to distance education, is largely responsible for the shortage, not only in special education but in everything from school psychologists to gatekeepers.
“We had to put our hiring on hold last fall because we didn’t need that many people last year. We were able to get our paraprofessionals and special assistants to work from home,” said Rubio.
Other municipalities are also recruiting.
San Francisco has approximately 70 teaching positions. Oakland has approximately 50 locations.
“It’s getting pretty competitive for all school districts,” Rubio said.
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