SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The 2022-2023 school year in the Sioux Falls School District (SFSD) begins August 25. In preparation, the district has been doing some hiring.

Becky Dorman is the HR Director for the district. She says that as of Monday, August 1, the SFSD has hired 220 new teachers.

Part of that mass of new teachers is made up of special education professionals.

“We’ve probably hired more special educators than we have in the past, because we’ve increased some staffing in that area,” Dorman said.

Despite the creation of new positions, Dorman notes that most of the new hires are filling vacated positions, not newly created ones.

“We’re following the national trend where people are leaving, either to go to other schools, some stay home with their children, and others are leaving the profession or stepping out for a while,” Dorman said. “We’ve had some growth — but a lot of it is replacing those that are no longer with us.”

It appears the district is on track when it comes to hitting their hiring goals. With around 24 days till the start of the school year, they have just 14 teacher positions unfilled. “A few of those are from resignations that happened mid-summer,” Dorman said. Others, she says are more difficult to fill positions, such as special eductaion.

The district provided a breakdown of the open positions. Four were elementary teachers, one was in middle school, five were high school openings, and four were special education.

The hope, said Dorman, is to have these positions filled by the start of the school year.

However, fulltime teacher positions are only part of the story.

The SFSD also claims to have 250 open substitute teaching positions.

“250 is the number that I’d like to hire — new subs — by mid-October,” said Dorman. “If we hire more than 250 that’s great, but we know that we’re going to need at least 250 more.”

Aside from substitute teachers, the district also needs 30 education assistants, 20 custodians, 38 coaches, 5 clericals and 5 food service workers.

“For the last couple years we have consistently had education assistant position openings,” said Dorman. She said there is a lot of competition for people with the skill and interest to work with children. “We’re all competing for the same labor pool.”

Within the SFSD, these education assistants work with teachers to help out with activities and lessons in the classroom, as well as with adding support in larger classrooms, recesses and other situations.

In terms of custodial rolls, Dorman notes that the 20 vacancies are spread across 37 different school sites within the district. “It really requires you to hone in and make sure you’re being as efficient as possible,” she said.

While clericals and food service positions only account for 5 openings each currently, Dorman cautions against viewing them as less of a priority. “I think if the opening is at your school, it feels like a really big concern,” she said. “If you’re missing a schools secretary — that’s a big concern.”

That particular concern could be felt more in the district’s elementary schools. Dorman says that each SFSD high school can have anywhere between 10-12 clerical workers on staff with middle schools having 4-5, and some elementary schools having as few as one clerical.

The 38 coaching openings may be easier to fill, as many can potentially be filled by already hired teachers and education assistants.

Dorman told KELOLAND News that the district currently employs just under 1,900 full-time teachers, meaning that the 14 open teacher positions account for less than 1% of teaching positions.