August 29, 2016

Brentwood Home Page
by Emily West

It hasn’t been easy for Williamson County Schools to find the employees they need most – Spanish and special education teachers, bus drivers and food service workers – so officials are discussing new recruiting ideas.

The district fights the lowest unemployment rate in the state, with few in Williamson actively searching for work. The district also has the Williamson County Commission setting the budget, thus contributing to how much the system can pay for those positions, which are hard to fill.

Superintendent Mike Looney told school board members during Monday night’s policy committee meeting it was time to think outside of the box. Under consideration is now a pilot program, one that consists of a pool of 20 hires with the incentive of letting their children attend Williamson County School if they live outside of the district.

“We would be picking up the additional expense of having their child enrolled in our schools,” Looney said. “A couple of weeks ago, someone posted on Facebook or Twitter that the idea of attracting additional bus drivers is to let their kids go to school for free here. The light clicked. I thought that was an interesting idea. It could be a tremendous recruiting tool.”

As of now, those who work for the district can bring their children to school with them, but at a cost. It costs around $4,400 to send one child. Looney said allowing out-of-district employees to send their children to WCS without cost has been an issue for the Williamson County Commission in the past. Though in talks with Mayor Rogers Anderson, Looney said he was up for trying the new program.

While it’s still in the developing stages, some board members showed hesitation at the idea. They noted while the intention was good, it might offend existing teachers who bear the cost or send their child elsewhere.

I understand the frustration and clearly it’s something we need to get serious about,” District Eight member Candy Emerson said. “But I am having a huge concern that it will open a huge can of worms that some teacher send their kids to districts that are substandard of what we offer in Williamson. I think the ramifications could be no good. The teachers are the backbone of what this system is. They need to be at the front of the line.”

None of Looney’s plans are set in stone yet, but he said he would like more board input when the concept becomes firmer. Right now, the superintendent said he envisioned presenting a plan to the board for feedback, implementing the program and providing a report after the school year to measure its success.

Currently, the district has 224 drivers on staff, but could use as many as 20 more every day. If one bus driver calls in sick, the cost is potentially 75 students arriving late to school.

A Williamson County Schools bus driver earns a starting salary of $14.72 per hour along with employer-paid health insurance coverage.

The work also offers additional hours through field trips and athletic travel provided the driver’s interest. The district pays for up to 80 hours of training to help the future driver earn the proper license needed to drive a bus.

When it comes to food service, Williamson has openings at 12 different schools across the district. The equates to 14 people needed.

The SAC program also needs help.

In an effort to recruit employees to these positions, the district will host a job fair Tuesday, Aug. 30, from 4:30-7 p.m. at Mill Creek Middle School.

Jobs WCS will be looking to fill include:

  • Bus Attendants, Bus Drivers (and Mechanics)
  • Cafeteria Workers
  • Child Care Assistant Site Leaders, Site Leaders and Workers
  • Maintenance (General, Electrician, HVAC)
  • Substitute Teachers
  • Teacher Assistants (General and Special Education)

Interested applicants should come dressed for the job with a copy of their resume. Applicants can also apply online or call 615-472-4050 with any questions.