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Missouri heads into new school year with teacher shortage

Posted at 9:13 PM, Aug 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-10 13:09:25-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The new school year is on the horizon, but across the Kansas City area, school districts are confronting a teacher shortage.

On the Missouri side of the state line, they're urgently looking for solutions.

As classrooms open soon, there are a lot of open teaching positions.

"Probably a little more it looks like from the data in the secondary level, which would be for Kansas City 7-12, but for most places 6-12 and predominantly in the high schools, if we get even more specific," Jason Roberts, president of the Kansas City Federation of Teachers, said.

There's also a substitute teacher shortage, which means possible increased class sizes.

"That I believe is one of the worst situations we can be in, because obviously students learn better when they're not just a number in a seat," Roberts said.

The state's board of education has appointed a blue ribbon commission on teacher recruitment and retention, and they've been holding public hearings.

"They're going to have recommendations to the State Board of Education by October is my understanding, so they're moving quickly, as they need to because this is an urgent issue," Brent Ghan, deputy executive director at the Missouri School Boards Association, said.

According to Ghan, one of those needs is financial.

"We're going to have to see some additional state support for teacher salaries in Missouri," he said.

One solution geared towards recruiting and retaining teachers is one less day of teaching.

"We have now more than 25% of the school districts in Missouri that have gone to a four-day school week," Ghan said.

Not everyone is on board with a four-day school week.

"The teacher shortage is not about how many days am I working in a week, the teacher shortage is actually about am I being supported," Roberts said.

Another solution to increase support is personnel realignment, which includes bringing administrative staff out of offices and into teaching roles.

"I think it's a long term solution to a long term problem, because we have too many exits off of the road to the classroom," Robert said. "There are too many little middle management areas where you can get out from the kids."