Hiring issues for Extended Day Program persist


Malcolm Taylor

According to Kimberly Williamson, director of human resources, the major hiring shortages are occurring in jobs that are lower-paying and do not necessarily offer benefits.

Peter Pu, Editor-in-Chief

The Laboratory Schools continue to face issues hiring substitute teachers and staff for the Extended Day Program as part of the nationwide trend of people leaving the workforce.

According to Kimberly Williamson, director of human resources, these major shortages are occurring in jobs that are lower-paying and do not necessarily offer benefits. She said that some substitute teachers that have previously worked for Lab are choosing to not come back. 

“A lot of it can be attributed to the pandemic, and then I think at some point, the government is issuing additional funding to citizens, and there’s a number of factors.” Ms. Williamson said. “People have decided for safety and health reasons not to return to work, or to enter the workforce.”

Outreach initiatives have expanded beyond the normal routes of recruiting talent for these positions. As posting on the University of Chicago’s website has not been sufficient, high school students have been hired, and staff ranging from clerical employees to administrators have stepped up to fill vacancies. 

Audrey Hampton, director of family life programs, expects the Extended Day Program to be fully staffed by Jan. 3. 

“We’re competing against a number of other industries, a number of other schools that are offering incentives and, you know, higher pay to attract and retain talent,” Ms. Williamson said.

The issues arising from these shortages are compounded by the increasing demand. As part of its coronavirus mitigation strategy, the N-2 Extended Day Program divides groups into smaller cohorts, requiring more adult supervision. Faculty and staff are taking more days off to care for their families. 

To better retain substitute teachers, Ms. Williamson said Lab has recently opened the in-house substitute position. These substitutes can expect to consistently show up and are eligible for employee benefits. 

“They’re showing up,” Ms. Williamson said. “They’re here every day, and for the most part, I can’t think of a day that they were not assigned to a classroom.”

The hiring process for vacant faculty positions will proceed in the spring. Art teacher Mirentxu Ganzarain, music teacher Catherine Janovjak, physical education teacher Diane Taylor and middle school science teacher Mark Wagner are set to retire this year. Lab has yet to fill administrative positions including director of communications and director of technology.