teachers

Brad Wilson / flickr Creative Commons

Wichita Public Schools has nearly enough teachers for a change, but it says it stills needs more bus drivers.

Shannon Krysl, head of the district’s human resources department, says the number of teaching vacancies is the lowest it has been in years. Classes resume in Wichita on Aug. 14.

Education officials in Kansas are taking a two-pronged approach to reducing teacher shortages: raising pay and fast-tracking teaching assistants and other professionals to the front of the classroom.

After recruiting only three teachers in Kansas last year, nonprofit Teach For America is asking lawmakers for a quarter of a million dollars to continue working for the state.

In 2018, legislators appropriated $520,000 for Teach For America to recruit 12 teachers.

The Kansas Legislature agreed to pay education nonprofit Teach For America more than $500,000 this year for a pilot program to recruit 12 teachers to the state.

But the national organization only recruited three teachers for the state in 2018.  All of them were placed in Kansas City, Kansas, where the local school district pays their salaries and benefits on top of another $3,000 per teacher per year to Teach For America.

Stephan Bisaha/Source: Kansas State Department of Education

Kansas' teacher shortage is growing worse.

The latest numbers from the Kansas State Department of Education for fall 2018 show 612 teaching positions remain unfilled by a qualified teacher. That's up from the 513 vacant positions from the same time last year.

According to the state, one possible explanation for the shortage is that schools have become less reluctant to report their vacancies.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service/File photo

Kansas schools are still struggling to hire teachers.

There are more than 600 vacant teaching positions in Kansas, nearly 100 more than in the fall of 2017. Special education and elementary positions have the largest number of vacancies.

The Kansas State Board of Education received the update on Tuesday from the Teacher Vacancy and Supply Committee. The main reason for the open positions is a lack of applicants or qualified applicants.

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Wichita Public Schools will soon start another school year with a shortage of substitute teachers.

While the school district has fewer vacant teaching jobs this year, long-term substitutes will fill some of the remaining positions. That takes more substitutes out of the already small pool used to cover absent teachers.

When a substitute isn’t available to cover a class, those students are spread among other classrooms for the day, overloading the class sizes for some teachers.

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Wichita Public Schools welcomed hundreds of new teachers to the district at a new staff orientation Thursday morning.

The new teachers were greeted at Wichita Northwest High School with cheerleaders, a photo booth and a marching band.

“I am very excited to be starting the school year,” said Mike Flaigle, who will teach sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade math at Horace Mann Dual Language Magnet.

The number of vacant teaching positions in the district has been cut in half, from more than 100 last year to 54 this year.

Stephan Bisaha / KMUW

Teachers and staff who died on school grounds across the country over the past year, including those killed in school shootings, were added to the National Memorial for Fallen Educators in Emporia on Thursday.

The memorial was created in 2013 in reaction to the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary. The Memorial for Fallen Educators was designated a national memorial in May.

Kansas teachers have lost their second attempt to get tenure back for thousands of educators through the courts — but say they will continue their battle at the Legislature.

“So this is a disappointment,” teachers union spokesman Marcus Baltzell said of the decision handed down by the Kansas Supreme Court Friday. “But it's just one step."

Friday’s decision from the state’s highest court was unanimous.

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