As students head back to class, some area school districts are still trying to hire staff before the first day. Union Public Schools has all their teaching positions filled right now, so their biggest need is for support staff.
Many Green Country Schools have open positions for teachers’ aides, lunch staff, and custodians, but most say their highest need is for bus drivers.
"They seem to be really thankful that you're giving them a ride," said Union bus driver John Call.
John Call started working as a bus driver for Union Public Schools last year.
He says he's partially retired but wanted the chance to do something rewarding every day.
“It’s kind of exciting to see all the new faces,” said Call. “It's just fun."
Union Public Schools has about 30 open positions right now, and 10 of those openings are for bus drivers, which many believe is one of the most important jobs in the district.
"They understand they are delivering our most precious cargo every day, and without a good start to the day the kid’s days don't do as well as they can," said Executive Director of Human Resources, Jay Loegering.
Union Public Schools transports about 10,000 kids per day during their morning and afternoon routes.
They say they are usually looking for bus drivers ahead of the first day, but this number is down from years past, because they adapted their bus routes and changed school start times.
Many other surrounding districts still have job openings ahead of the first day of school as well, but the Oklahoma State School Boards Association says many of these openings are because districts were able to add more positions thanks to increased education funding.
Union says they don’t have any open teaching positions, so right now their focus is on hiring support staff, like teachers’ aides, lunch staff and of course bus drivers.
"As we get close to the start of school we’ve had some people move out of state which caused some of our openings last minute, but this is actually fewer than years past, so we are thankful to have smaller numbers to recruit the last few days before school starts,” said Loegering.
One of the openings they're looking to fill right now is what's called a "homeless" bus driver.
That's a driver who may go outside their normal bus route in the district to make sure students make it to school on time.
"We know that education helps them move forward and hopefully get out of the situation they happen to be in,” said Loegering.
Loegering says they are thankful they don't have any open teaching positions right now, but they understand many schools across Oklahoma do.
The Oklahoma State School Boards Association says Oklahoma public schools had 596 teaching vacancies on August 1st.
That number has gone down since then, but many districts, like Union, are still struggling to hire support staff.
"We do have people that will be in place at all the positions at least part time until we can get someone there full time,” said Loegering.
Union does have some teaching openings listed on their website. They say they always have them listed in case a position were to come open.