LEWISTON — With less than a month before the new school year begins, there are still about 80 jobs available within the Lewiston School Department.

Lewiston Superintendent Todd Finn spoke with the Sun Journal on Monday regarding a large number of teacher positions still open as the school year approaches. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Superintendent Todd Finn, who will be overseeing his first academic year in the district, said there are 37 teacher positions and 46 educational technician jobs available.

With about three weeks until the school year begins, the job openings are likely to keep school officials scrambling or, at the very least, have them still making hires after classes begin. The number of teaching positions open represents 6% of the district’s teachers.

Finn said positions are deemed open until hires are approved by the School Committee, which is set to meet Aug. 19. Finn said he is hoping the number of available positions is halved following the meeting.

The school year gets rolling during the last week of August, with two teacher workshop days Aug. 26 and 27 and school starting Aug. 28 and 29. Finn will host a teacher orientation Aug. 20, the day after the School Committee will likely approve a number of new hires.

“That’ll get cut down in about two weeks,” Finn said Monday, “and we’ll see what we have left from there, and keep charging.”

New hires are approved only after Finn makes recommendations to the School Committee, which then recommends a contract, ultimately approved by Finn.

He said it is typical for larger school districts to hire “right up until the school year starts,” but Finn also pointed to his larger aspirations for the district, which he hopes can result in attracting and retaining more staff.

“I’m not alarmed at all, but coming from larger school systems, everything is relative,” he said. “Seeing the large amount of openings, it does call into question for me: What are we doing? You have your natural turnover, and you have your preventable turnover. The numbers tell me a lot, and it tells me we’ve got to continue building a positive culture.”

He said that means immediately improving communication, and improving the overall culture in the district. For teachers, he would like that to include improving “self-esteem and self-efficacy.” He’s hoping a combination of improvements will lead to more teachers choosing to stay in Lewiston.

Finn said he conducted about a dozen exit interviews without ever working alongside the employees.

Finn was hired earlier this year to replace longtime Superintendent Bill Webster, who retired in June. Finn, a Massachusetts native, was most recently a high school principal in Vermont, but was also an assistant principal and principal at high schools in North Carolina and Georgia.

The largest segment of positions available in Lewiston is educational technicians, which provide educational support in classrooms at K-12 schools, often with students with disabilities.

But Finn said the most needed teaching positions in the district is English teachers who are qualified to teach English Language Learner or English as a second language classes.

He said other contributing factors to the turnover were promotions and retirements.

Monique Gilbert, human resources director in Lewiston, told WGME last week internal promotions of educational technicians to teaching positions left many of the ed tech positions open.

Lewiston also has a need for substitute teachers. The district is offering a $100 bonus for working 12 days per month.

In Auburn, the hiring issue seems to be less of a concern. The district’s human resources website currently lists about 20 teacher and educational technician positions.

A call to Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin was not returned by the Sun Journal’s deadline Monday.


Comments are not available on this story.