TEACHER SHORTAGE: “We’re losing the battle”

Illinois school officials said the statewide teacher shortage is a serious problem and regional superintendents received feedback from more than 500 school districts.

The 2018 study showed 85 percent of districts identified a problem with teacher shortages in their schools, up from 78% Peoria Public Schools was included in that.

“The teacher shortage is helping us think more critically and creatively,” said HR recruiter with Peoria Public Schools, Jeannine Williams.

Regional Superintendent in Bloomington, Mark Jontry, said the biggest reasons for the shortage is teacher burnout, poor mentoring and low pay.

“The cost ultimately is going to be our students,” said Jontry.

More than 80 percent of districts report either canceling classes or programs because of a shortage of qualified applicants or converting classes to online instruction.

“If we can’t adequately staff our schools with qualified teachers, that is going to have an economic impact that is going to be detrimental to the economic engine in the state of Illinois, in terms of a viable workforce,” stated Jontry.

89 percent of central Illinois districts and 92 percent of southern Illinois districts have issues with staffing teaching positions with qualified candidates. Peoria Public Schools said they feel the pressure with over 80 vacancies.

“Yes, we are finding it very challenging to recruit the best and the brightest teachers to work in our district,” stated Williams.

To turn this all around, Peoria Public Schools is now recruiting all year long, hosting career fairs.

Statewide, the study shows they, too, are actively recruiting new graduates from local colleges and universities; hiring replacement teachers before loosing some to retirement; and increasing base salaries for those just starting in the classroom.

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