Dec 10, 2021 - News

Colorado schools increasingly rely on parents to fill gaps

A classroom on Aug. 25, 2020, in Newlon Elementary School in Denver. Photo: David Zalubowski/AP
A classroom on Aug. 25, 2020, in Newlon Elementary School in Denver. Photo: David Zalubowski/AP

Officials are turning to parents to fill gaps caused by staffing shortages at Denver Public Schools.

  • Bromwell Elementary relies on 40 parent volunteers to keep its library operating, for instance.
  • The district has recruited dozens of parents to get certified to serve as substitute teachers. Others are working in the front office or supervising the cafeteria at lunchtime.

Why it matters: The shift in responsibility for teaching and supervising children is apparent across the state, the Denver Post reports.

What's happening: Parents are also filling gaps in hiring staff or teachers, or when existing school employees call in sick.

  • But the pool of those who are available is shrinking for the same reasons that make recruiting school workers challenging: Expensive childcare, regulatory barriers and better paying jobs.

Of note: The state lowered its hiring requirements needed to become a substitute teacher, and some districts are offering incentives — both of which appear to be helping to alleviate the shortage.

  • "Our parents, our families, are listening. A big portion of our hires have come in the last month and a half," ​​Lacey Nelson, director of talent acquisition for Denver Public Schools told the paper.
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