Area schools struggling to fill teacher positions

By Ryne Turke on January 13, 2016 at 7:28am

A handful of West Central Illinois school districts seem to be having a difficult time filling teaching positions.

A survey from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools indicates that sixty-percent of school districts are currently working understaffed. The survey also showed seventy-five-percent of districts are seeing a decrease in qualified candidates.

District 117 Superintendent Steve Ptacek says Jacksonville is already down a Speech Language Pathologist and Title 1 position.

“We have far less teachers applying for every position than we have had in the past. They have made it very difficult to get your teacher certification in Illinois. We need to expand our alternative teaching options in the state. If we lose a Spanish or Physics teacher then we are very concerned about replacing those positions.”

Waverly School District is also showing a decrease in staff this school year. Superintendent Dustin Day says the drastic reduction of teacher candidates in recent years is making it harder for school districts to find qualified employees.

Triopia Superintendent Steve Eisenhower says two years ago his district terminated their Business program because they didn’t receive any applications for the open teaching position. Eisenhower expects to have some teaching openings in Math, Science and Social Studies next year, and worries he will have a difficult time filling these specialty classes.

Greenfield Superintendent Kevin Bowman says staff at his school “is fine right now”, but the lack of school funding and stricter requirements on new teachers might make finding qualified candidates difficult in the near future.

The survey also reported factors including teachers quitting the profession and teachers in other states not willing to relocate.