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Data shows districts struggling to fill vacant teaching positions

Posted at 6:30 PM, Feb 27, 2020

Over the past few years, ABC15 has spoken with former teachers like Karin Selchert, who left a job in education to become a plumber and make more money.

"I'm making a difference but a difference can only go so far," she said back in January of 2019.

Justin Wing, Human resources Director at the Washington Elementary School District, says not much has changed in the past five years.

"Two main root causes for the teacher shortage: one is teacher pay and the other is working conditions," he said.

As a board member for the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association, Wing helped survey over 200 districts and charter schools in the state.

At the start of this school year, there were over 7,000 open positions. As of December, nearly 2,000 of them remained unfilled.

"In Arizona, every day is recruiting day," Wing said.

In the ASPAA report, it states nearly 4,000 of those openings were filled by people who did not meet the standard teaching requirements.

"School districts and charters are hiring more alternative pathway teachers," Wing said. "So if that wasn't an opportunity, I don't know where we would be in Arizona education."

Data also shows nearly 1,000 teachers left their jobs half way through this school year.

Wing says the numbers show that more needs to be done.

"School systems have to leverage their staff to do more, to meet the needs of the children and they are doing it but as you can see with the stats of people leaving mid-year, it is a stress," he said.

Over the years, districts have taken on different methods for recruitment. They've leveraged Arizona's great weather, offering low-cost housing and in southern Arizona, the Vail School District grabbed national attention by building homes for teachers on land owned by the district.

A state-wide education job fair is taking place February 29. For more information, click here.