DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Students across the country will head back to school this month, but many districts are once again facing staffing shortages. Schools in the Miami Valley are also feeling the strain.

Students in Huber Heights will head back to the classroom on Thursday, and while everything is good to go for the first day, Superintendent Jason Enix said the district is still looking to fill multiple positions.

“We still have some vacancies and particularly in some of our hard to find positions. Intervention specialists have been difficult this year, speech pathologist, school psychologist, those are the positions, some of the specialty positions that are really hard to find,” Enix explained.

Enix said the district continues to face challenges when it comes to hiring employees, especially substitutes.

“We have to find substitutes and those are often difficult to find just on a day in, day out basis as well. Sometimes fill rates are well under 50% on any given day,” Enix said.

Down the road at Mad River Local Schools, Superintendent Chad Wyen is feeling relieved this school year. He said all of the teaching positions are filled and they have a good group of subs lined up. He attributes that to the district staying competitive.

“We pay $150 a day for substitute teachers. And the reason for that is we’re competing with Walmart and Target and other employers out there that pretty much, on an hourly rate, pay the same amount,” Wyen explained.

It was still a challenge to fill all of those positions, though. According to the Ohio Department of Education, more teachers are choosing not to return to their classrooms. There is also a decline in the number of students pursuing education degrees.

Wyen said they started their own program at Stebbins High School to help students studying education stay within the district.

“We’re trying to grow our own, really, and have our students who go through that academy go to a local university and come back as teachers in the district.” Wyen said.

In the Miami Valley’s largest school system, Dayton Public Schools, Interim Superintendent Dr. David Lawrence, said they still need to fill close to 50 teaching positions. He said the district will be focusing on retention to keep numbers up.

“We’re working very hard with some retention studies around happiness and what makes people happy here in Dayton Public Schools. So we can use that model to say, ‘Hey, what are the things that will keep you here?’ Because we can’t keep recruiting 150, 200 teachers every year, that’s not sustainable,” Dr. Lawrence said.

While districts welcome back students for the new year, school leaders said their priority continues to be providing the best education possible.

“Sometimes I think that is lost on the issues of the day, as opposed to looking at the long term and how you really do have an impact on kids and on the future of adults down the road. It really is rewarding,” Enix said.

To learn more about the positions open at schools across the Miami Valley, click here.