Though still fully entrenched in summer, preparations are already being made for when classes resume in Newton schools this fall.

While the official start of the 2019-2020 school year is still a month off, USD 373 will be hosting a job fair from 3 to 6 p.m. July 16 at the McKinley Administrative Center, 308 E. First St. in Newton, to make sure it is fully staffed when students return to district buildings in August.

While something similar has been held in the past, USD 373 director of human resources Jane Nichols said this will be the first such job fair held during her decade with the district. After attending a workshop last school year where she heard about the success of a similar inaugural event in the nearby district of Derby, she decided to take the idea and run with it.

By the time of the job fair, Nichols said all teaching positions for Newton schools should be filled, but there are still a number of other staffing needs around the district.

"At the beginning of every school year, we look to hire paras and aides, latchkey workers, potential custodians if we have that opening," Nichols said. "Every July, towards the end of the month, we're hiring classified folks, so we just thought this would be a great time to try to get them in a little sooner to learn more about the district and our positions. I thought since we do that hiring right about that time every year then this would be a great thing to try to do to help our supervisors have some folks already in the pipeline to hire."

Nichols noted the district is also looking for food service workers and bus drivers and will have a "Drive the Bus" event as part of the job fair to draw in applicants for the latter positions — giving those interested some hands-on experience in bus operations.

Each school or department will have their own table at the job fair where potential applicants will have the opportunity to learn more about job openings and ask their questions. Prospective employees will also be able to fill out an information card at the job fair to get their applications started. There will be a table set up with computers for those who don’t have access to computers or internet at home for the online application process.

"Somebody may not be familiar with what a paraeducator is and what those job functions are, so coming in and being able to visit about that first, they may find that job isn't a fit but there's something else that is," Nichols said. "I just feel that this is going to be a benefit to those looking for a job and for the district to also get to know more members of our community."

Hosting such a job fair, Nichols is hoping to draw in a large number of potential applicants and help those individuals find the perfect fit within the district among the open positions.

"Our goal is to reach new applicants who may not be aware of what jobs we have available and to allow them to ask questions in an informal setting,” Nichols said. "It's getting harder and harder to fill all of our positions. The unemployment rate being as low as it is, there are not as many people looking for jobs, so we're trying to reach everybody we possibly can who is not currently employed or looking to work for the school district and just hoping to fill those positions."

The All Aboard USD 373 Job Fair is a come-and-go event. Resumes are welcome but not required. Current job opportunities are listed at www.applitrack.com/newtonk12/onlineapp/.