Garfield Re-2 employee base grows for upcoming school year |

Garfield Re-2 employee base grows for upcoming school year

Molly Mahaffey, a first grade social studies and science teacher at Wamsley Elementary School in Rifle, gives a thumbs up from a tent inside her classroom Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Garfield School District Re-2 is heading into the upcoming school with an additional 165 positions filled, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

Garfield Re-2 Director of Communications Theresa Hamilton said 65 of those filled vacancies are certified teachers, with the rest being a conglomeration of administration, paraprofessionals and other support staff.

Of the district’s 365 certified teaching positions, just eight remain unfilled. An additional seven certified staff members are also still needed.

“The salary schedule improvements definitely helped,” Hamilton said. “We definitely improved our marketing efforts in terms of where we were advertising positions.”

The district is also using alternative licensing programs available through Colorado Mountain College and Colorado River Board of Cooperation Education Services, which offers employees the necessary skills to become certified instructors.

Wamsley Elementary School First Grade Teacher Sydney DeGrave arranges a book bin Wednesday.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Last school year saw a 28% turnover rate for all employees at Re-2, and many times this caused employees across the district to take on extra responsibilities, Hamilton said. 

“We’ve been short-staffed, so teachers have picked up extra classes. We’ve been short staffed on custodial, so our custodians have picked up other shifts,” she said. “We’ve been short staffed in nutrition services, so other people have pitched in to help serve lunches. We’ve been short staffed in transportation, and the director and the mechanics have had to run routes.” 

To help mitigate shortages, the Garfield Re-2 School Board on May 11 passed base salary and pay schedule increases while absorbing out-of-pocket expenses incurred by employees insured on family plans.

Starting base salaries for teachers, counselors and academic coaches alone increased from $36,896 to $43,011. A 6.8% increase in insurance premiums were taken on by district coffers, thus decreasing out-of-pocket expenses by $300 to $800, depending on the plan.

The first day of school for Garfield Re-2 is Aug. 15, and right now staff and administration are working behind the scenes to prepare for Monday. And with about 15 certified staff — including those eight teachers — still needed, Hamilton said principals are working with staff to align schedules accordingly.

“I know that the principals are continuing to work with staff, readjusting schedules, readjusting class offerings to make sure that our students have all of the classes that they need to meet graduation requirements and that kids are safe and cared for,” she said. “If there are gaps in buildings, I know that’s what teachers are doing right now. And we’ll continue to keep those positions advertised and, hopefully, get them filled.”

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