Indian Prairie School District 204 Facing Hiring Challenges

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At Monday night’s Indian Prairie School District 204 Board of Education Meeting, the board heard about the ongoing hiring challenges facing the district. Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Dr. Louis Lee presented his findings during the District’s Annual Hiring Report.

The Need For Employees

The demand to fill more positions is greater than ever. Dr. Lee showed data that the number of unfilled positions at public K-12 districts across Illinois went up by nearly 1,200 according to the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) Survey, which reported that from 2021 to 2022.

Some D204 positions that are hard to fill include teaching assistants, special education teachers, bilingual teachers, psychologists, nurses, bilingual teachers, speech and language pathologists, and occupational therapists.

“The Storm Is Coming”

Many of D204’s current staff is considered to be veteran staff and closer to retirement.

“Our veteran staff has worked tremendously hard all of these years and they are entitled and well-deserved retirement and that is coming, as much as I want them to stay, retirement for them is coming. So, we know that over the next five to ten years because of the growth in our district and where our veteran staff is that we are going to have challenges that are coming and how to actually meet needs and try to bring in new staff to replace our veteran staff,” said Dr. Lee.

According to Dr. Lee, the district has 53 staff members set to retire this school year, 48 in 2024, and 17 have elected to retire in 2025.

Diversity In District 204 Improves

The issue of diversity in D204 is on-going discussion in regards the faculty and staff demographics.  The report showed improvement in hiring with 21.5% of the districts’ new licensed hires were people of color, a three-year trend of double-digit growth.

“Grow Your Own Teacher”

One way the district is trying to get qualified teachers is through the “Grow Your Own” program, in which district students are taught about the importance of teaching in the hope that after college the students will return to the district as teachers.

“Our focus has been getting a great passion for this. Ultimately, we want all of them to come here but long term as long as they are going into education, we’re going to be okay. We really want to attract the best and brightest to come right back here to our district,” said Dr. Lee.

Recruiting Events and More Information

The district will be hosting recruiting events throughout the year at select schools’ education career fairs. There’s also a “becoming a teaching assistant” informational virtual meeting on October 3 at 5 p.m. More information on that meeting and the career fairs can be found on the district’s website.

Naperville News 17’s Anthony Yench reports.

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