Arizona schools use headhunting company to battle teacher shortage

PHOENIX - Trying to combat the massive teacher shortage in Arizona, school districts are working with a private Valley company to recruit teachers from all over the country.

There are more than 2,100 vacancies across the state. Educational Services, Inc. launched a new program with four full-time recruiters who pitch Arizona to prospective teachers. 

It's called "flex teach." The teachers are encouraged to move to Arizona and try out a district for a year. If the teacher likes it, he or she signs a contract with the district.

They have been holding job fairs and trying to target young, soon-to-be teachers before they even graduate.

"The younger generation is very mobile and fluid," said president of Educational Services, Inc. Phil Tavasci.

"They take a little more risk than we have seen in prior generations. They are willing to move across the country and try a new place out."

But new graduates also have mounting student loan debt and Tavasci says a lot of those teachers have a minimum salary requirement. Arizona's average starting salary is about $31,000.

"We can't hit that or come close to it, and we will lose those teachers to other states," said Tavasci. 

So how do they entice teachers to move to Arizona?

Tavasci says during the middle of winter they reach out to teachers in extremely cold climates like Minnesota and Wisconsin.

They just launched their full-time recruiters this summer. So far they have placed about 30 teachers in districts across the state. A handful of them are at Alhambra Elementary School District in the west Valley.

They hope to recruit about 300 teachers for the next school year.

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