Lack of funding possible cause of teacher shortage


    By Kimberlee Winterton

    Researchers foreshadow a shortage of teachers because of the large turnover rate among teachers and the current growth of Utah students.

    Some teachers are going out of state, others are retiring and others are deciding a change of career.

    “It”s worrisome to us because we do know that some teachers are leaving,” said Jolene Jolley, Human Resource Specialist for Jordan School District.

    A study from Utah State University showed Utah schools currently lose about 11 percent of the teaching work force (2,777 teachers) each year, with 3 percent to retirement.

    USU researchers recommend supplying the need for teachers by employing past teachers who have left the profession and hiring recent graduates. But, Richard Ingersoll, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in teacher turnover recommends a contrasting solution.

    “Maybe you have to do some recruiting, but you ought to look closer at your retention,” Ingersoll said to The Salt Lake Tribune.

    According to Larry Klein, Human Resource Director of Uintah School District, Jordan District is now trying to recruit teachers from out of state, while out of state districts are trying to recruit teachers from Utah.

    “The out of state recruiters are recruiting graduates to come to work out of Utah,” Klein said. “One of their recruiting methods is that there have been signing bonuses of $5,000.”

    Yet, for Jordan School District, the luxury of paying new teachers such a bonus, and thereby lower the number of students in each class is impossible.

    “The funding isn”t there to make class sizes lower,” Jolley said.

    Uintah School District, located in the rural basin of Utah, however, has plenty of teachers to fulfill their current needs.

    “Uintah high school is kind of unique,” said Mark Dockins, Assistant Principal of Uintah High School. “We”re down in enrollment for the entire district. We”re not in a shortage of teachers.”

    Jordan School District is working to address the potential teaching shortages.

    “One thing our district is trying to do is trying to strengthen our retention program through professional development, mentors and curriculum,” Jolley said. “The second thing we have started to do for our district, because we know we”re growing, is we”re recruiting out of state.”

    USU researchers projected that the student population in the state is projected to be 49 percent over the next twenty years. The percentage translates into 11,818 required positions over the same time period.

    Jolley said the predicted shortage of teachers in Utah creates a problem for the state and for Jordan School District that is worrisome. “We”d love for everyone to go into teaching,” she said.

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