Searching for Teachers - KXNet.com - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Searching for Teachers

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Preliminary enrollment numbers for Williston Public Schools are about 100 students higher than the start of last school year --- and officials expect that to double by the first day of school.

Another statistic officials HOPE will double in the next three weeks: the number of new-hire teachers.

Williston Public Schools have 19 job openings.

As Jennifer Kleen tells us, the nearing deadline is forcing the district to get creative.

Back to school shopping is underway for many in Williston, but Superintendent Dr. Viola LaFontaine is checking off a list of her own.

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston Public Schools) "One kindergarten teacher, two first grade teachers, we need one third grade teacher, three forth grade teachers, four fifth grade teachers and three sixth grade teachers."

Williston Public School District lost 45 teachers over the summer.

LaFontaine says with many retirees and opportunities in expanding schools across the state, 45 has been average over the past few years.

She's hired 22 and still has 19 teacher, three counselor and staff positions to fill.

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston Public Schools) "I get emails from other superintendents in the state saying they were still looking for elementary teachers so I realized it wasn't only in our area."

Dr. LaFontaine will be asking the Education Standards and Practices board to add elementary teachers to the 'hard to fill' list.

With the board's approval on August 14, retirees could teach for a full school year without a pension impact.

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston Public Schools) "You never want to ask someone to give up their retirement but maybe this will help us out."

A second option would be to train student teachers under a retired teacher's guidance and at the end of the ten week training period, the student teacher would take over the class.

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston Public Schools) "We then run into the affordable housing issue."

Starting in Williston is at $36,000, and the district has a limited number of apartments available.

(Dr. Viola LaFontaine, Superintendent Williston Public Schools) "I can't fit 19 teachers into two apartment buildings so I'll still need to look at housing options. If there were retired teachers that would be willing to help us out for a year, that would be the best thing because they're already in the community already."

The recent approval of a school bond means more space is on the way.

But this year, it's teachers that are in short supply.

In Williston, Jennifer Kleen, KX News.

Williston ended last school year with about 3200 students --- a near 40 percent increase over the last five years.

 

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