The Washoe County School District (WCSD) is looking to hire more than 300 employees before school resumes in the fall.
The district needs about 140 in-classroom teachers’ aides and assistants. It needs 50 bus drivers, 50 custodial employees and 80 people for its nutrition services department. People interested in any of these positions are advised to look on the district’s website.
WCSD lost employees across its many departments during the pandemic. Much of it was attrition, though the nutrition services department faced a massive furlough of nearly 100 employees.
Each of the four departments for which the district is hiring have part-time and full-time positions available. None of them require more than a high school diploma. Some positions are benefited and include medical insurance and Public Employee Retirement System benefits.
Catherine DeLone, a human resources manager for the district, said many of the part-time jobs are a great option for retirees or college students who want flexible hours.
“I think another really great benefit is, with this many positions and being as large of district as we are, there’s a great chance that, if you’re in the North Valleys area, we have a position within your area,” she said. “So, instead of having to drive out to USA Parkway for Tesla or Panasonic, there’s a great chance that we have a position within your neighborhood.”
Melissa Thompson is a teacher’s aide. She’s hoping to advance to being a teacher’s assistant next year. She’s been with the district for 13 years and started by volunteering for lunch and recess duty with her best friend.
“It’s like I kick myself all the time because I didn’t find this career sooner. There’s nothing I would rather do than work with these kids. These kids are amazing,” she said.
While there are opportunities for positions working with the general education population of students, Thompson works with mostly older, special needs students who may remain in after graduation programs until they’re 22 years old.
“It’s a great community, and it’s a great district to work for—and you do benefit the students,” she said. “What we do—it’s needed. These kids need that support and that help to get through life, basically. You teach them how to fold clothes and how to cook, all kinds of things for the vocational aspect of it.”
It was October of last year when the district announced it would have to furlough nearly 100 of its nutrition services employees.
The Nutrition Services Fund is an enterprise fund. These are defined by Nevada Regulatory Statute 354.517. Basically, the statute defines how these funds operate—which is much like a private business enterprise, wherein the expenses of the business operations are recovered primarily through charges to the users.
The fund was not making enough money during hybrid and distance learning to support itself. All of the employees who were furloughed have been offered their positions back, new nutrition services Director Shirley Kakousky said.
“We’re all a big team. The teachers have their jobs; the secretary has her job; the principals have their jobs. But none of us can do our jobs without the others.”
If the district is able to hire for all 80 positions over the summer, it will bring the nutrition services department’s staffing back up to pre-pandemic levels.
The district is hoping for the number of meals served per day to also return to their pre-pandemic levels to support the nutrition services department and its fund.
“We are looking for passionate people,” Kakousky said. “We can offer any kind of training in any of the schools. So, the skillset is very geared toward passion and wanting to be involved with the kids and their experiences really more than a strong culinary background. It’s really about providing great service to the students.”
Jenni Wallner, kitchen manager at Virginia Palmer Elementary School, has been with the school district since 1997.
“I love what I do. I look at it as I feed the future. I get up every morning, and I don’t have to go to work; I get to go to work,” she said.
Wallner said the lunch room is a space where children get to smile and not worry about their grades or whatever may be going on at home. She added that a big benefit of the job for parents is the opportunity to be at home with one’s own children as she was able to do before her sons graduated.
“I have grandkids in the district now,” she said. “I love my job. It’s a great place to work. We’re all a big team. The teachers have their jobs; the secretary has her job; the principals have their jobs. But none of us can do our jobs without the others.”
Kate Schum, HR manager, said there will be an application workshop for nutrition services positions on Thursday between 3 and 5 p.m. at North Valleys High School, 1470 E. Golden Valley Road.
“So, anybody interested can join us there, and there will be support to help them through the application process.”
The last application workshop, which was held for teacher’s aide and assistant positions, saw 30 applicants for in-class teachers’ assistants and aids.
Jeri Chadwell came to Reno from rural Nevada in 2004 to study anthropology at the University of Nevada, Reno. In 2012, she returned to the university for a master’s degree in journalism. She is the former associate and news editor of the Reno News & Review and is a recipient of first-place Nevada Press Association awards for investigative and business reporting. Jeri is passionate about Nevada’s history, politics and communities.