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Public schools seeking seniors for certain jobs

By Preston Knight - pknight@nvdaily.com

WOODSTOCK -- Shenandoah County Public Schools is seeking employees after all.

A program funded through a U.S. Department of Labor grant to the National Council On Aging will open the doors for people 55 and older in need of employment and who meet certain financial criteria beginning this fall. The senior community service employment program will meet division-wide staffing needs in such areas as receptionist, basic clerical, light custodial and cafeteria supervision, officials said during Thursday night's School Board meeting.

Superintendent Keith Rowland said a number of people who were responsible for answering phones left the division, and the top priority is to get someone to do that and greet people at the School Board office front desk. The grant pays for people to work 20 hours a week for up to two years, personnel director Andrew Ansoorian said. There is no cost to the school division.

According to the program's website, the initiative was created in 1965 to help low-income, unemployed people at least 55 years old find work. It matches eligible adults with part-time jobs for community service organizations, the site states, and participants build skills and self-confidence while earning a modest income. The goal is to place 30 percent of people into unsubsidized employment each year.

There were 77,758 positions in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, with another 12,231 funded by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. They were funded at about $571.9 million.

The program is new to county schools after the Shenandoah Area Agency on Aging applied to participate. Ansoorian said principals have indicated there are 11 opportunities within the school division, and that number is expected to grow. The Shenandoah County Department of Social Services has offered to help in contacting potential employees, he added.

The goal is to have people in place by the beginning of the 2010-11 school year. Ansoorian said the program could continue beyond two years, but funding for a person runs out after that time.

For school officials, they could not be any happier that help is on the way and the funding for it is coming from elsewhere.

"It almost sounded too good to be true," Rowland said.

Anyone interested can contact the School Board at 459-6222.


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