Kansas - Kansas prides itself on its schools, but many districts are facing a big problem.
In about one month, Kansas schools will welcome back thousands of students, but they could be without hundreds of teachers.
"It's pretty scary being four weeks out,” said Julie Wilson, who is the coordinator of statewide recruitment and retention. “The number of openings that we have right now is atypical. We have over 500, and usually we end July, especially mid-July, we see a tapering to 200, even 100 sometimes.”
Wilson monitors the website KansasTeachingJobs.com, which serves as a recruitment and retention platform for districts.
“We’re still having postings for elementary teachers. Those typically fill up immediately and one or two were just posted today,” Wilson explained.
There are between 60 and 80 openings right now in all eight regions of the state. Those numbers are growing.
“Five years ago, you would have 60 applicants to one position," Wilson said of the changing trends.
Districts are growing more concerned.
KCK Public Schools Chief of Staff David Smith said Kansas schools are facing challenges that only create more instability and uncertainty for teachers.
“The climate for education, the funding challenges we continue to face, the language coming out of certain parts of the legislature around things like teacher tenure; those all present challenges,” Smith said.
Wilson can see the desperate attempts schools are making to lure teachers their way through a simple click on the website.
“Districts in the western part of the state have figured out that if they click northeast as its region, even though it's not, I know that a lot of applicants look in that region based on population. They think maybe they can pull someone to the southwest or northwest Kansas regions, by chance.”
The Kansas Department of Education released new findings. In 2011, 399 teachers left the state to teach elsewhere. That number jumped to 654 last year.