In just two weeks, summer break for students will come to an end. But the Clark County School District is once again going to start the new school year with a teacher shortage. It’s an issue affecting school districts nationwide because districts across the country are competing for a small pool of qualified teachers.
CCSD recruits year round and uses a number of strategies to attract educators to the valley. The district has even taken its search overseas.
“It feels like we just got out for summer and now we’re kinda getting back into gear,” said Diane Barber, parent.
According to Barber, some of her son’s classrooms are overcrowded, and the teacher shortage isn’t helping.
“They have to deal with so much more than they ever knew and it’s certainly not a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job,” Barber said.
CCSD has about 540 teaching open vacancies. That’s a little higher than the same time last year.
Educators are currently making their way through the hiring process, but that doesn’t stop the first day of school from happening.
“We typically hire 400 hundred teachers right after school starts,” said Kirsten Searer, the chief of communications & strategy for CCSD.
The number of vacancies also fluctuates with people leaving the school district and retiring, which is part of the reason CCSD recruits year-round.
“Certainly we hope to get those number of shortages down,” said Searer. “We want to make sure that we have a quality teacher in every classroom.”
Searer says besides recruiting at college fairs and through social media, they’ve had to get creative, so for the second year, the school district has recruited teachers from the Philippines.
“We have more than 100 teachers from the Philippines who are coming in, into some of our really hard to fill positions in special education,” said Searer.
CCSD is also expanding a program that encourages its students to pursue a career in education.
A total of 16 high schools will have 31 programs.
“So we’re trying to grow our own here in Clark County, and we’ve had a lot of success in some of our programs like at Clark High School,” Searer said.
With that said, the school district still faces a lot of challenges like declining number of students majoring in education and competitive salaries. CCSD pays first-year teachers about $40,000.
“It’s a lot of stress and not a lot of compensation so it’s hard to keep teachers and it’s hard to attract teachers here,” Barber said.
CCSD says the alternate route to licensure program has also been helpful. The program is open to anyone with a bachelor’s degree who wants to teach.
CCSD students return to school on Aug. 13.