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Districts still looking for teachers just weeks before school starts

(Photo: Truth in Taxation meeting August 6, 2019. Credit: Canyons School District)

SALT LAKE COUNTY – The clock is ticking for school districts across the state.  The school year is going to start soon, and several districts are still looking for people to fill open teaching slots.

It’s very common for districts to have unfilled teaching spots in the weeks just before classes begin.  For instance, the Jordan School District still has 16 open K-12 teaching spots, along with 13 unfilled special education teaching positions.  Spokesperson Sandy Riesgraf says that’s actually better than they normally see this time of year.

The Granite School District is also looking for teachers, but Spokesman Ben Horsley is convinced they’ll have those classrooms filled within the next 13 days.

“This is actually not as big of a problem as it has been in the past.  I know some other districts in previous years have had as many as 50 openings on the first day of school.  While we’ve been able to not have that kind of problem, you can imagine 50 classrooms without a contract teacher,” Horsley says.

He says they still have several qualified applicants they can speak to, and they have ways to fill any gaps that may arise.

Horsley says, “We do utilize long-term substitutes in certain positions, as we’re able to.  We’re always going to make sure that our students in classrooms have adequate support.”

Some teachers along the Wasatch Front didn’t even know what their salary would be earlier in the week.  The Salt Lake School District is expected to release the results of the deal they negotiated with the Salt Lake Education Association by Wednesday.  Officials with that district aren’t specifying how many teachers they might need, but, we know a small number of instructors have transferred to the Canyons School District.

Canyons Spokesman Jeff Haney says they’ve been attracting teachers from all over the country due to a huge spike in teacher pay.

“The Canyons School District announced a plan to give all teachers a $7,655 a year salary increase, representing a double digit [percentage] increase for every teacher.  This puts the starting teacher pay at the Canyons School District at $50,000, ” Haney says.

Before this pay spike was announced, Canyons was losing a huge amount of teachers every year.

Haney says, “When our board of education announced the intention to give a historic and sizable salary bump to every teacher, it was in response to the need to fill an annual average of 280 open teaching spots, per year.”

The increase got a lot of pushback from people attending a district board of education meeting last night.  Some opponents say it higher taxes would hurt people on a fixed income.  The Canyons board approved it unanimously.