DES MOINES, Iowa — Class bells rang in the start of the 2023-24 academic year on Wednesday, and Local 5 took a tour around to some of the districts in the area to see how the first day went.
"This is exciting, this is really and truly, our new year, this first day brings so much excitement," Roberts said.
Roberts stopped at 10 schools today, making his rounds for his first school year with DMPS.
Mike Beranek, president of the Iowa State Education Association, shared how excited he is to see a leader who represents the diverse district. Though Roberts has ton of responsibilities ahead, Beranek is confident Roberts is up for the job.
"Des Moines is facing many issues, with vouchers, with open enrollment, and I understand that this individual is going to meet those challenges head on and will do incredible work," Mike Beranek, said.
Roberts oversees more than 30,000 students, and he plans to make sure he is visible to them all.
"Within the first 90 days of the school year, I am going to visit each and every one of our schools to get into classrooms, to see what students are doing, what they're experiencing and certainly to make sure that I'm visible and accessible to all of our teachers, leaders and staff, " Roberts said.
Despite having troubles in years past, DMPS isn't experiencing bad luck with the staffing shortage this year.
"The recruitment strategy that we have put in place over the last several months has resulted in us being, as of last Friday, having a 98% fill rate," Roberts said.
Although, DMPS staffing numbers are positive many other districts are still struggling to get people in their classrooms.
"I've been traveling around the state of Iowa quite a bit, the past few weeks. I can tell you that there is a teacher shortage here in Iowa, not all of our districts are fully staffed to open their classrooms. As you know, today was the first day of school and main buildings," Beranek, said.
Local 5 reached out to the districts within our area to see about any other staffing concerns. So far, we've heard back from West Des Moines and Johnston, who report they only have a few openings to fill. Johnston is looking for a secondary math teacher and one middle school special education position. West Des Moines said they only have a few special education positions and bus driver jobs still open.