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FWCS says labor shortage could prompt some e-learning; Calls move ‘last resort’

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- Thousands of area students may have to return to remote learning.

This time, though, it's not because of the coronavirus but a labor shortage.

While Fort Wayne Community Schools has not reached the point where remote learning has to be implemented, administrators are looking at all options just in case.

"There just aren't enough people out there who want to work and who want specifially the kind of jobs that we have," said district spokeswoman Krista Stockman.

FWCS has hundreds of open positions, including 70 bus drivers, dozens of nutrition services workers, as well as teachers, office staff, and more.

And the district is willing to pay new hires that are needed in every building.

"We do have some positions where we've offered bonuses, signing bonuses, retention bonuses. We've offered retired teachers bonuses if they come back to teach full-time, even part-time we would take," Stockman said.

FWCS needs to hire at least 70 bus drivers to cover all its routes.

She says Superintendent Mark Daniel is thinking outside the box and taking all suggestions, including encouraging applicants who need flexible schedules.

Substitute teachers are desperately needed, and you might not know that parents are now welcome to be back in classrooms and lunch rooms to volunteer their time.

Staff members from the central office are even going into schools to fill in for teachers and other jobs, but there are more openings than people to fill them.

"If we can't cover the positions that are open and that are critical to the function of the school then we have to look at something that we really don't want to do, and that is return to some sort of e-learning," she said.

While nothing has been decided yet and this would be a last resort, she says e-learning would look different than last year's hybrid schedule but still allow staff from one set of school buildings to go to others to help out.

"We have five high schools, five days in a week, so you could pick a different high school feeder system every day and then that way students are only missing one day in person," Stockman said.

She says to help avoid that situation the district has changed its hiring process to make it faster and more streamlined.

To apply for openings in the district, click here.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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