Teacher shortage becoming crisis in some parts of southern Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– It’s an issue that affects our future generation — the lack of teachers in the classroom.

In some parts of the state, it has become a crisis.

Less than 5 percent of high school students are interested in becoming teachers. Colleges have seen a decrease in applicants to their teaching programs.

Pay and the increase in standards are the big reasons for the drop, but districts and the state are trying to find solutions to the growing problem.

“For several years now, [it has been] extremely challenging,” said Kirk Vsetecka, Executive Director of Human Resources at Widefield School District 3.

It hasn’t been easy for Widefield School District 3 to find teachers for their classrooms.

“To fill the positions that we have, whether they’re hard to fill areas or just kind of standard teaching positions, we hired from 25 states this last year,” said Vsetecka.

The district says hiring teachers used to happen in the spring, but now it’s an all-year process.

“As we’re bringing in new teachers and doing orientation with them currently, on the heels of that, we’ll really start for next year,” said Vsetecka.

It’s not just a District 3 issue.

“If you go to the extreme southeastern part of the state, it’s definitely a crisis, they’re having a very hard time finding any educator to take over a space,” explained Dr. Robert Mitchell, Director of Education Preparations for the Department of Higher Education.

In the 179 public school districts in Colorado, there were nearly 3,500 jobs that needed to be filled.

“We’ve done the research, we know why people don’t go into teaching, we also know why people leave, now we’re putting together a plan that says this is what it takes for us, in the state of Colorado, to make sure we have great teachers across the state,” said Dr. Mitchell.

As for District 3, they have 125 new teachers this year and are hoping to keep them around for years to come.

“You want to have good co-workers and bosses that you like,” added Vsetecka.

The Department of Education wants input from teachers and the public on how to address the issue.

>> You can share your thoughts on a survey by clicking here.

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