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Grand Rapids Public School district hires 170 new employees

The district still has about 279 positions that still need to be filled. School officials admit more work needs to be done to close that gap.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Hiring has been difficult for school districts across the country. Several West Michigan schools are trying to fill openings right now.

The Grand Rapids Public Schools district started the year with nearly 400 vacancies, but officials recently made big progress filling those. In the last 40 days, the school district has hired about 110 teachers and 60 support staff members.

A significant number—but school officials admit more work needs to be done to close that gap. The district still has about 279 positions that need to be filled.

School officials say the vast majority of the openings are in support roles, such as custodial staff and secretaries. School nurses, social workers, psychologists, paraprofessionals and math and science teachers are also in high demand.

The district says when it comes to hiring, they are selective and choose the best talent to work with students.

"For our teaching roles, in a number of our roles, there is a level of education and aptitude required. But the primary skill we're looking for is in the heart," said Leon Hendrix, Executive Director of Communications for GRPS. "We're looking for people who are dedicated to the education and well-being of our scholars, our young people who trust us to further their education. We know they deserve the best, so we're looking for the best." 

GRPS has a benefits package that includes a $1,000 signing bonus for Grand Rapids Education Association members.

Earlier this year, the teachers' union in Michigan estimated we are seeing up to 10,000 educators leaving each year with only about 5,000 new teachers to replace them.

The shortages are well-documented across the state, and it's perhaps even worse on the substitute teacher side, with one agency saying a substitute could work five days a week right now if they chose to do so.

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