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Despite teacher shortages nationwide, many KC area districts fully staffed or close to it

Posted at 4:21 PM, Aug 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-14 19:28:08-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Having enough teachers in public schools is a concern nationwide, including here in Missouri and Kansas.

Data from the Department of Education shows teacher shortages impacted both states last school year.

But according to districts on both sides of the state line, the outlook is sunnier as kids head back to school this week.

"For teachers this year, we have been very fortunate, and we are fully staffed," said Dr. Deborah Delsemme, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for the Lee's Summit R-7 School District. 

Delsemme attributed high staffing numbers to the salary and benefits packages, which she said make the district competitive in the market. 

"It's a healthy competition. The nice thing is Kansas City is a great place to live overall, so that helps our market here in the Midwest I think," Delsemme added.

Lee's Summit isn't alone. The Blue Valley School District hired 208 teachers this year, filling any open spots. Director of Communications Kaci Brutto said a couple openings could pop up if enrollment is higher than anticipated. 

Over in Kansas City, Missouri, the district has 12 certified openings, compared to 26 at this time last year. Public Relations & Marketing Manager Raymond Weikal described it as "the best staffing position we've been in" for years.

Weikal added it's only a matter of paperwork before most of the 12 openings are filled. Some of the openings were in science and math, two subjects presenting recruiting challenges across the country.

"It's always a challenge to recruit qualified teachers in hard sciences and special education - which is no different this year," Shawna Samuel of the Shawnee Mission School District wrote in an email to 41 Action News.

Samuel said the district didn't initially anticipate having openings, but a few came up due to unexpected resignations and larger than anticipated class sizes in a school. 

Click here to learn more about Missouri's recruitment and retention of teachers from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.