A tight job market isn’t making it easy for school districts to fill openings this year.

Generally, though, it doesn’t appear to be any worse than at this time last September

“We’re right where we normally are,” Auburn Superintendent Katy Grondin said, mostly searching for some aides.

Lewiston Superintendent Todd Finn said his district has 38 teaching positions open but is “already in better shape than we were a year ago.”

The unemployment rate in Maine is 3 percent, one of the lowest figures in the state’s history, and the job picture is even better in Androscoggin and Oxford counties. Franklin County’s rate is 3.3 percent.

Deb Alden, the superintendent of Regional School Unit 10, spanning Rumford and Buckfield, said hiring has gotten tougher.

Last year was bad, she said, but this year is “slightly worse.”

She said her district has openings for a librarian, two elementary teachers, four special education teachers, a library technician and a couple of technicians for special education.

At this point, Alden said, the district has no applicants for the open jobs.

School Administrative District 17 Superintendent Richard Colpitts said his Oxford Hills district has filled nearly all of its open positions.

“I believe we have two open positions that were created by late resignations,” he said, for a social worker and an instructional coach.

Despite the district’s success in filling vacancies, Colpitts said it has been “a very difficult year to recruit and hire new teachers, bus drivers and ed techs.”

Across the board, it appears that ed techs — aides who assist teachers — are proving the hardest positions to fill.

In Farmington, Regional School Unit 9 Superintendent Tina Meserve said last week 17 positions were open, but she anticipated filling all but four soon.

Meserve said the district has contracted online teaching services to bridge the gap created by any unfilled slots.

The Farmington district’s director of support services, Jonathan Chalmers, said eight positions were open in transportation and facilities, some full-time and some part-time.

Grondin said that in Auburn, they are always looking for ed techs. There are bus driver positions open, too, she said.

In the big picture, Grondin said, Auburn does “a good job with staff” by networking often and working with existing employees to help find others interested in applying for open jobs.

Last year, the district was faced with filling 39 vacancies. The year prior, it was 34.

Finn said most districts are facing a hard time finding good teachers. Complaints about a shortage of teachers are common in many states, especially where educators’ pay is paltry.

Finn said the number of college graduates who earn teaching degrees is down by more than a third since a decade ago, leaving districts to scramble to replace a growing number of retirees.

In Lewiston, one thing Finn has done to help is to allow excellent retired teachers to come back to work, collecting both a retirement check and regular pay. So far, he said, four experienced teachers have been hired that way.

Finn said Lewiston is doing more to have a presence at teaching colleges in New England and to do on-the-spot interviews with students heading toward graduation.

He said the more who take a good look at Lewiston, the more will “fall in love with the place.”

Finn said one way that Lewiston hopes to stand out is by encouraging teachers to be innovators.

“We are going to be very aggressive in our recruiting,” he said, because that’s the best way to find the creative, talented teachers the city needs.

Finn said that despite the need to fill jobs, Lewiston is going to be picky.

“I’m not going to settle for a warm body,” he said.

List of teaching jobs that remain open in Lewiston.

Comments are not available on this story.