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School leaders preach patience with after school waitlist

(Image credit: Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — School is underway throughout the Salt Lake City School District, but for some families, it’s uncertain times. That’s because a staffing shortage of after school care employees has forced hundreds of students onto a waiting list.

“We currently have over 130 employees in this program, but we need more,” explained Salt Lake City School District Spokesman Jason Olsen. “In fact, we have about 850 students who are on a waiting list wanting to get into this program.”

With that in mind, the program is operating at maximum capacity considering the staff limitations.

“We actually currently have over 1,500 students already enrolled and already meeting every day after school,” he said.

According to Olsen, it’s paramount for them to increase their employee count, since the program has such a demand locally.

“Salt Lake City School District has probably the most robust after school program in the entire state,” he explains. “We have after school programs at all of our elementary schools, plus our Title I middle schools, as well.”

One reason for the lack of applications might be tied to underwhelming pay. These jobs start at around $10/hour and typically are offered for only around three hours a day. But according to school leaders, they can’t offer much more because that would require charging families more for their services.

“It’s not something where we’re making money or something where we simply can raise prices,” says Olsen. “So we’re in a tough situation.”

One answer might be looking for young adults and high school students to take on these positions.

“There are people out there that I think this job would be great for,” he explains. “We just, with the strong economy, we’re having a hard time finding them.”

For now, many families will simply have to cross their fingers and hope that they are lucky enough to get into the program.

“We fully expect for that waitlist to go down,” he says. “As we hire more group leaders and more coordinators, we expect those waitlist numbers to go down.”

A link to apply for the positions can be found here.