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JCSD faces shortages of professional employees

Board to pay teachers taking on sub work

MIFFLINTOWN — The Juniata County School District has taken action toward attracting and retaining school psychologists amid a nationwide shortage.

Gordon Hall, of Tuscarora Intermediate Unit 11, presented virtually on the topic at the school board’s Thursday night meeting.

He called the shortage “an issue that shapes districts in ways that people are not really aware of.”

Hall said there has been a nationwide shortage of school psychologists for the past 15 to 20 years; a trend that is predicted to continue for at least the next 30 years.

Shortages are growing even more rapidly in the northeast.

“If we are not thinking proactively … then we are going to hit a churn of school psychologists coming and going,” Hall said.

He talked to the board about ways to attract and retain school psychologists. For example, offering a salary for interns and professional benefits such as memberships to national associations and certifications.

Toward the end of its meeting, the board voted to approve an annual stipend of $15,000 for psychology interns for the 2022-2023 school year. It also approved a $1,500 stipend for psychology mentors.

This aligns with Hall’s advice, as the average internship stipend is $15,000 a year.

Additionally, the board took action to compensate teachers for substitute work while the district experiences a shortage of substitute teachers.

Superintendent Gary Dawson said substitute shortages are extreme, and “we’ve tried all avenues to try and find substitutes.”

Because no solution has been found, he recommended a motion to approve a memorandum of understanding that would put in place additional compensation for teachers who substitute teach during their planning periods.

The board approved the MOU, which states that teachers employed beyond 185 days of service will receive an additional hourly rate of $35 for the length of the contract.

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