Jacquea Dickson fillng out employment forms at D65 job fair.

Jacquea Dickson came to register her son for kindergarten.

She left with a job offer.

Dickson was among those attending a District 65 Job Fair at the JEH Education Center Thursday.

Only Dickson did not know about the fair until she went to the building with her son, five-year-old Reignjah Sharpe.

Looking for a job she could balance with going to graduate school, Dickson applied for one of the vacancies and was interviewed on the spot.

With less than one month to go before school starts, the district’s online job board shows that there are 140 openings in a variety of areas, although district spokesperson Melissa Messinger said that some of those jobs have been filled but won’t come off the board until all the paperwork is finished and the person is officially hired.

Most buildings, Messinger said, are “nearly fully staffed, but we’re always looking to hire for hard-to-fill positions.”

District 65 is not alone. It’s a nationwide problem. Hardest-to-fill here are bilingual learning behavior specialist, bilingual social worker, and bilingual speech pathologist positions.

Those are the jobs, Messinger said, that come with a $5,000 signing bonus.

Other areas of need include health services (school nurses), individual educational services (the new name for special education), lunchroom supervisors, and paraprofessionals (teacher aides).

Twenty-three paraprofessional positions, and six special ed paraprofessional positions are still posted.

Messinger said District 65 is “in need of qualified, interesting, and caring individuals” to apply for paraprofessional jobs.

Salary depends on the position, but most paraprofessionals will start at about $25,000 a year plus benefits.

P.J. Killian applied for a paraprofessional job in a middle school.

P.J, Killian (light blue shirt) has interview at D65 job fair.

“I’ve worked as a substitute and as a paraprofessional in summer school,” Killian said, so he’s interested and optimistic.

As for Jacquea Dickson, she’s not certain she’ll accept the job offer. But she adds that she’s “80% there.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Join the Conversation


  1. D65 is a failing district. Standards have fallen and disruptive behaviour in the classroom is normalized and accepted. Many people pulled their kids during the pandemic and never looked back.

      1. Unless the voters throw out the entire board and elect a new board who is willing to throw out the entire current administration, there is nothing to be done. It is a lost cause.

    1. Does sounds very low to me as well (basically poverty level), but note that that’s the STARTING salary (excluding benefits) for paraprofessionals, and NOT teachers. I think those individuals aren’t required to have bachelor degrees, etc. (associate degree is okay.) so the level of education and experience needed is much lower than that of teachers. I would imagine the average is also likely much more than $25k.

      The average teacher salary at D65 is $88k according to the Illinois Report Card. Admin salary (where headcount has increased significantly in the last few years) averages $140k. Both are significantly above IL averages.

  2. I’m not sure about the logic of hiring people on the spot. What is the screening process?

    In a normal business you need to have reference checks, make sure the resumes are truthful, and usually multiple rounds of interviews before an offer is given.

    It seems like they are just taking any warm body off the street and throwing them into positions where they are interacting with kids.

    This sounds like a recipe for disaster.

  3. Not too many differences between getting hired in D65 and Chipotle. Jobs always open, get hired on the spot. This should be a District where people are lined up to have a chance to work, but instead they are dragging people who came to register their kids for school into job interviews and offering them jobs on the spot. Mind blowing….

  4. If District 65 wasn’t such a toxic place to work perhaps they could keep employees. The morale is at an all time low and continues to plummet. Our school district has become a joke. Staff and students from every level are fleeing Evanston School District 65. The school board carries on patting themselves on the back. What a disappointment!

    1. I do agree with you that’s why I am home schooling my son because the whole administration doesn’t care about those kids

  5. Equity, Equity, Equity …. How about equity in pay for paraprofessionals? There’s so much overlap of responsibility in the trenches that are demanded on the job yet we make a fifth or sixth of what administration makes in a year. Often critical, life saving decision are made and performed by aides at the expense of their physical well being. D65 needs to thinking about correcting the yawning gap in economic independence that is due to these critical workers in the school district.

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