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Teacher shortage plagues AK schools

JUNEAU (AP) — A teacher shortage across the nation has added to Alaska’s ongoing problem of educators fleeing the state, leaving school districts scrambling for teachers with just a few weeks until classes start, school officials said.

Numbers from August 4 show 155 teaching positions and 90 special education positions are open across the state, according to Alaska Teacher Placement.

About half of Alaska’s school districts are still looking for teachers to hire for this school year, KTOO-FM reported.

Lower Kuskokwim School District Supervisor Joshua Gill said he has offered rookie teachers $52,000, only to find out another school district already offered them $70,000. But competitive salaries aside, Gill said he still has to convince people to come to “bush Alaska” where they have teacher housing without running water.

“They have honey buckets, (a) gray water system and (you’re) trying to convince them to live in a village thousands of miles away from their families,” Gill said.

Toni McFadden, an employee at Alaska Teacher Placement, said Alaska’s biggest job fair this year drew between 200 and 250 people.

“And that has been a steady decline,” McFadden said. “People remember from the ‘80s when there were over a thousand people looking for jobs in Alaska.”

Alaska school districts hire about 800 teachers from out of state and 200 more from within the state each year, McFadden said.

“Fewer people are going into teaching as a career, about 50 percent of teachers leave teaching as a career during the first three to five years,” she said. “Even to the point that some colleges are cutting back on teaching classes because they don’t have the enrollment that they used to have.”


Information from: KTOO-FM, http://www.ktoo.org