Friday, August 21, 2015

As another school year begins, rural schools continue struggling to fill teacher vacancies

Rural schools are once again struggling to fill teacher positions. In Nebraska during the 2014-15 school year, 3,220 positions were listed as available, according to the Nebraska Department of Education 2014-15 Teacher Vacancy Survey, Lauren Sedam reports for The Grand Island Independent. "Of those, 166 were unfilled, meaning the position was filled by someone other than a fully qualified teacher or was left vacant." (Independent photo by Barrett Stinson: Elba Public School first-year math teacher Sydne Endorf watches as MacKenzie McKoski works on a problem during an eighth-grade math class)

"The results also showed that 12.5 positions were left vacant," Sedam writes. "Of the unfilled positions, 63 were in districts or systems with less than 500 students, and 77 were in districts or systems with more than 2,500 students."

The Tuba City Unified School District governing board, located in the Navajo Nation in Arizona, has had to compensate for teacher shortages by increasing the number of classes given to some teachers, Corina Vanek reports for the Arizona Daily Sun. Instructors, who normally teach three 90 minute classes, will now teach four classes. The board also reduced the number of required English classes students need to graduate.

William Longreed, president of the board, told Vanek, "We have had this problem for a while now. Teachers in the past have broken contracts to leave. When I was a teacher, it was always the same way. Teachers, especially young teachers, don’t stay very long.”

In North Dakota, where school starts in less than two weeks, 72 elementary school positions and 102 middle or high school positions remained open, as of last week, Kathleen Leinen reports for The Daily News-Monitor. "Superintendent Kirsten Baesler’s teacher shortage task force proposed giving struggling school districts the authority to request a hardship waiver to help fill their open teacher positions. Baesler said in a press release the step is necessary because many of North Dakota’s 179 public school districts are still scrambling to find teachers for the 2015-16 school year."

"The waiver would allow a community expert to become a classroom teacher in the subject of their expertise," Leinen writes. "For example, a school district could hire an experienced farmer who lacks a college degree in education to be licensed to teach vocational agriculture."

Charles County Public Schools
in Maryland began teacher orientation on Monday, with the first day of school Aug. 31. The county, which is located outside Washington, D.C., "began the summer with 215 openings, due to resignations, appointments, promotions and leaves of absence" and still has 50 open positions, Jamie Anfenson-Comeau reports for Southern Maryland Newspapers Online. Pamela Murphy, the district's executive director of human resources, "said Maryland trains fewer teachers than it needs, and so its school systems typically recruit from out of state. In addition, many teaching programs were cut during the recent recession."

No comments: