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Kansas faces another round of teacher shortages

Posted: 5:46 PM, Jul 13, 2016
Updated: 2016-07-13 22:47:57Z

For years there has been a teacher shortage in Kansas, and this year is no different.

A new report released Tuesday by a task force of academics and educators, created by the state, found rural and urban school districts are struggling to fill teaching jobs - specifically Wichita and Kansas City, Kansas.

"It's been tough trying to recruit enough teachers to fill all of the positions that we have this year. We have a lot of shortages, especially math and science, like a lot of places, but also elementary school teachers," said Patricia Hodison.

Hodison taught high school chemistry for years before leaving the classroom to become the president for KCK's NEA chapter. Finding ways to hire teachers has become one of her primary focuses.

"A lot of times we have the most inexperienced teachers, the turnover is high. Our teachers are not paid as much as teachers are in other districts that have more money and yet that is why I know I have to keep fighting, keep working," she said.

According to the 28-page report, teachers in the state are opting for positions in suburban areas rather than urban or rural areas.

The report also says fewer students are majoring in education. In 2009, federal data indicated 7,000 students were pursuing education studies at Kansas post-secondary institutions. Two years later, 7,750 students were pursuing education studies, but the latest data from 2014 shows 5,380 students were pursuing education studies.

"At a time when Kansas needs a robust pipeline of preservice teachers ... the opposite appears to be the case," the report reads.

Hodison told 41 Action News these shortages do have consequences felt in the classroom. Class sizes have increased as well as the number of substitute teachers.

"They are not getting the same quality of education that they would if we could afford and fill all of the positions," she said.

Suggestions

The report included reccomendations for the education department, which included monitoring teaching shortages in the years to come.

It also suggested offering bachelor's degrees in special education (instead of requiring candidates to complete advanced studies); giving superintendents access to people in the area who have earned a teaching's license and are not teaching; and offering financial incentives (like hiring bonuses, property tax breaks, housing and so forth).

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Ariel Rothfield can be reached at  Ariel.Rothfield@KSHB.com.

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