The pandemic is causing teacher shortages and other school staffing problems across the state. Two top education officials discussed the issue at a recent Sioux Falls Rotary meeting.
State Education Secretary Tiffany Sanderson says every school district in South Dakota is dealing with staffing shortages for the upcoming school year.
“The open positions right now, going into the school year 3 weeks away, we still have almost 120 unfilled positions for classroom teachers.”
Sanderson says some teachers decided to retire earlier than planned because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She says schools are also seeking additional staffing to help students who need one-on-one tutoring or special assistance to make up for lost learning because of the pandemic.
Sioux Falls Superintendent Jane Stavem says her district is having trouble finding enough bus drivers and other support staff. Stavem says she is concerned about finding future teachers because many college students delayed graduation. She is also worried the pandemic has made college students rethink pursuing a teaching career.
“The complexities that our staff dealt with in just the dailiness of teaching were immense and it was very exhausting. And, you know, it’s come and teach but you have all these other things if you were going into teaching you might be thinking twice about that, and we don’t want to lose people from the profession.”
Stavem says one way to recruit more teachers is to raise teacher salaries in South Dakota and across the country. The Sioux Falls school board voted in May to raise the base pay for new teachers from 37,000 to 41,000 dollars.