ROCHESTER, N.Y. — As school districts prepare for in-person learning this fall, many across the country find themselves facing a shortage of support staff.
Alonzo Conley Jr. has worked all across the Rochester City School District in his 19 years, but considers Northeast College Preparatory High School his home.
“I just like the building, I like the location,” Conley said. “I like the staff. You get to meet the kids, and they’re pretty decent kids.”
The head custodian also considers his work some of the most important in the school, as students get ready to return to in-person learning full time this fall.
“This right here is what I think is going to help to keep kids and staff, children, safe from COVID and any other kind of bacteria,” Conley said.
But the important work has been made even more difficult by a shortage of support staff, an issue the RCSD and other districts across the country currently find themselves facing.
“I’ve kind of fallen back on my own work to make sure the building is ready for the school year,” Conley said. “And we also have a lot of new hires who have to be trained, but we don’t have as much time to train them as we want to.”
“The impact, we believe, is a result of some of the layoffs we had last year, as well as the labor market,” RCSD’s chief of human capital Chris Miller said. “It is quite competitive, there are lots of opportunities for people to find employment.”
The RCSD needs food service workers, custodians, bus drivers and security, and has kicked off a new branding campaign to help with recruitment.
They’re offering starting pay of $15 an hour or more, benefits and tuition assistance.
“All of our work is important work to have an impact and an influence on the education on our students, enrich our community and really have a hands on involvement with the support of our students,” Miller said.
Alonzo recommends others jump on board, not just for the pay.
“Compared to when I came in, it was a lot less than that,” Conley said. “And you can make a living from this job. You come in, do what you’ve got to do, take your test move up and maybe you’ll be a head custodian also.”
But because the Douglas campus is home to more people than just himself.
“The more people we get in this school, the better job we can do at disinfecting, and cleaning and making sure these kids are safe and everyone else is safe as well,” Conley said.
To apply and see current job openings, you can visit www.rcsdk12.org/careers.