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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eastern Idaho struggles to hire qualified teachers

Associated Press

POCATELLO – Some school districts in southeast Idaho haven’t been able to find qualified teachers to fill open positions, and officials fear the problem will become worse.

“We’ve managed to destroy the culture and dignity of being a teacher,” American Falls Superintendent Ron Bolinger said. “We have no one applying. We’re in a crisis.”

Pocatello, American Falls and Aberdeen school districts have had to use student teachers, substitutes and teachers with provisional certifications, officials told the Idaho State Journal.

The Pocatello school district is trying to find 90 new teachers and administrators.

“The demand is exceeding the supply,” said Douglas Howell, director of human resources.

Aberdeen School District Superintendent Jane Ward said it’s a struggle to find teachers under the state’s existing teacher licensing plan, and that a proposed tiered-licensure plan that locks beginning teachers into the same salary for three years and that can also drop teachers’ pay will make it worse.

“Teachers are upset,” Ward said, adding that she doesn’t believe teachers will jump through the hoops required to advance in the tiered-licensure plan. “They just won’t do it.

“Our teachers are working longer hours and are getting paid the same as in 2009,” Ward said. “It’s not a good situation to be in the education business right now.”

Pocatello Superintendent Mary Vagner said the tiered-licensure plan seems to be punitive to teachers.

“It creates anxiety in staff because of the uncertainty about pay,” Vagner said.

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