SOUTH MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Many school districts across Wisconsin are still scrambling to fill open positions as the new school year gets underway.

The South Milwaukee School District is one of them. It’s mainly looking for more support staff.

What You Need To Know

  • South Milwaukee School District is looking to fill at least six positions in food and cafeteria services 

  • In the past, the school had 35 food and cafeteria service employees, but that number has plummeted to just 10

  • The superintendent of South Milwaukee Schools said it's imperative to attract more workers, but it's difficult to compete with higher paying jobs

Carrie Anderson-Zalewski is the assistant to the school nutrition director. Anderson-Zalewski has worked in food and cafeteria services for the South Milwaukee School District for 13 years. She said finding more cafeteria workers is a big challenge. Right now, her team is looking to fill at least six positions.

“People just aren’t applying anymore,” said Anderson-Zalewski. “We could do a lot more with our lunch program if we had more staff. It just seems like since the pandemic, that’s when everything decreased. We would have a job fair or put an advertisement out and get all kinds of applicants. Now, we’re lucky if we just get a couple.”

Head custodian Jason Schick has witnessed a similar change over the past few years.

“Yes, as of late, there has been less staff,” he said. “So, we do what we can with what we have.”

Deidre Roemer just started as superintendent of South Milwaukee schools in July. As head of the district, she said she’s thankful for the hardworking teachers and staff she does have, but said it’s imperative to keep attracting more.

She said it’s become harder to compete with higher-paying jobs.

“There is a national teacher shortage, so I think everyone is aware of that,” Roemer said. “And so filling substitute positions and filling teacher positions has become more and more challenging for school districts. Paraprofessional positions in our classrooms and cafeteria, and some of our facility support positions also got much harder to fill as places like Amazon are paying quite a lot.”