LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – School districts are no different than many businesses facing a worker shortage.

“The people are wonderful, the children are wonderful,” Katie Jeter, JeffCo Public Schools Director of Resources said.

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Like many districts in the Denver metro area, JeffCo Public Schools is working to fill as many open positions as they can before school starts in a month.

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“It’s tough right now,” Jeter said. She estimated they have close to 100 vacancies — just in food services.

Support staff positions, such as workers in the kitchen, custodial, and transportation, seem to have the greatest shortage of applicants.

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“We had older drivers who had fears of underlining health issues, Greg Jackson, JeffCo Exec. Dir. of Transportation said.

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Jackson told CBS4 that COVID-19 drove some bus drivers into early retirement. There currently 72 driver openings.

“Buses are not going to pass through some of those areas that they usually do,” he explained.

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Adjustments have been made, combining some stops, he’s also contracted out some routes.

“You get a great retirement, there’s also great benefits that you receive, we’re guaranteeing folks a base of 30 hours,” he said, but added many drivers choose to work 40 hours or more.

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The district also provides training for a CDL license.

While some other businesses are offering bonuses and higher pay, unfortunately that’s something many school districts can’t match at this time.

“If you’re looking for a way to get out there, be a part of your community, do something that really serves, I think it’s a great option,” Jeter added.

What happens if there are not enough people? Jackson and Jeter told CBS4, they’ll find a way, with some managers potentially having to take on extras duties, at least temporarily.

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