COLORADO SPRINGS — The new school year is here and whether your children are about to start or already have, you may notice some changes in their classrooms or schedules this year as many schools in the Pikes Peak Region are dealing with teacher shortages.
Academy School District 20 and Widefield School District Three both say they have more positions open than normal. D20 has over 200 staff positions open, whereas Widefield School District is down seven teacher positions, but that’s not counting other staff openings.
“This is really a dramatic increase over anything we’ve seen in the last few years,” said Allison Cortez, Chief Communication Officer, Academy School District.
Both districts say some of the reasons for teacher shortages are fewer people enrolled in teacher prep programs in college and an increase in teacher retirements from the last few years.
“There is a very steady decline in students graduating with education degrees across the country. So we just don’t have the pipeline of teachers coming out of universities and colleges like we used to,” Cortez said.
Amy Roden, Executive Director of Human Resources with Widefield School District Three said the impact of the shortages are felt at all grade levels.
“It’s overall. We originally thought that we might be ok with our elementary, but our more specialty, our math, computer science, would be harder to find. What we found is it’s everything,” Roden said.
Roden said Widefield School District’s goal is to not impact students.
“Our goal is to have those positions filled. There are none that are in the same school. So they’re all spread out. If they aren’t filled, then we for sure will have a plan on how we will accommodate our students. But no, everything that we have done is, number one, to ensure that our students are not impacted at all,” Roden said.
However Cortez said they will also try limit the impact on students but if the shortages get worse, they may see a few changes.
“There could be some impacts, some could be short term that could look like maybe two classes coming together at the very beginning of the year until we find our long term subs or fill that position. It could mean that some of those elective classes at the high school level that are harder to find, maybe those go away for a semester,” Cortez said.
Each district is actively trying to get teachers in their schools and keep them longer by offering incentives such as signing stipends, creating job fairs and giving raises to teachers to let them know they are appreciated.
“We’re doing lots of different things through our building leaders just to make sure that our staff knows that we care for them and that they matter and we want them here. And so we’ll support them however we can,” Roden said.
“This is not a short term fix. This is going to take many years. And so we really need to get ahead of this. We really need to start working on teacher salaries. We need to start making sure that our teachers feel valued and respected. We really need to make sure that our young people consider teaching as a profession,” Cortez said.
Both school districts are actively hiring teachers and other staff positions such as bus drivers and substitute teachers.
To find a job with Widefield School District Three click here.
To find a job with Academy School District 20 click here.