Arizona school administrators are struggling to fill 1,000 vacant teacher positions across the state. Schools are set to start the new year just next week.
The state has had difficulty with hiring teachers in the past, according to Arizona Daily Star reports. Teaching positions in Arizona offer relatively low salaries alongside high turnover rates. These two facts really deter applicants from being interested to fill the 1,000 vacant positions.
There are many reasons behind these recent vacancies, but the biggest reason is the school board’s budget. Heidi Vega, spokesman for the Arizona School Boards Association, said that most of these teachers had not received a raise in the past six or seven years.
Arizona Department of Education created a task force called the Education Retention and Recruitment Task Force. The task force found that the low pay and high turnover rates among teachers results in little mentor-ship among young teachers. There is also an increasing work-load.
In the Balsz School District, Superintendent Jeffrey Smith says that the teaching positions really have no guarantees that they will be filled by the July 27 start date. Superintendent Debbi Burdick said she is trying to fill six teaching spots in her Cave Creek Unified School District. “We’re concerned. And for many of the positions we have open, we do not even have one applicant.”
District governing board even attempted to entice possible applicants by allowing a $4,000 signing bonus for qualified special education teachers or middle school math teachers. These six spots still remain open.
Department of Education’s associate superintendent, Cecilia Johnson, has an ominous prediction that this issue will only get worse. Roughly 25% of the state’s active teachers will be eligible to retire within the next five years.
Johnson went further to say that the average salary for teachers in Arizona is much lower than the national average, coming in at $47,000. The starting salary is $32,000 and the national average is $54,000.
Superintendent Jeffery Smith claims that Arizona has not made a solid commitment to public education. All of these loss of teaching jobs will continue to leave the state with an even bigger job of trying to fill the spots thus draining away at the crucial experience young and hopeful teachers need.