School administrators are trying to fill the void of the teacher shortage in the state.
Not only is the shortage nationwide, but it is happening here in North Dakota as well.
Wilton Public School District has 272 students, 30 teachers, and newer educators are coming and going just to get experience — which Superintendent Andrew Jordan says has been a common occurrence.
“For quite some time, I would say five years at least. No longer do teachers find a position and stay there very long,” said Jordan.
Jordan says salary is a reason for the shortage of teachers. The starting salary is about $37,000.
“We can’t pay as much as our neighbor in Bismarck. I do think that pay plays a role in it,” said Jordan.
Minot Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mark Vollmer says the shortage is affecting the school district in teaching areas like math, science and language arts which have been unusual in past years.
“Also, I see a lot of shortages in our special needs program,” said Dr. Vollmer.
The district has over 7,700 students, advertises openings, partners with local universities, and brings in teacher recruits.
“We work closely with Minot State University, getting students in our buildings often and on a regular basis,” Dr. Vollmer said.
As for Jordan, he says although pay does not exceed what competing districts offer, the experience in the job makes up for the salary.
“It has a lot of advantages, a closer-knit community, less teachers. You get to know your teachers a little bit more, you get to know the families a lot better,” said Jordan.
At MPS, teachers are retiring or relocating because their spouses are active military resulting in unfilled positions. Regardless of the circumstance, Dr. Vollmer is not allowing anything to get in the way.
“We’ve been through a flood in 2011, we’ve been through a pandemic in 2020, 2021, I’m not freighted by anything anymore. We will make sure that we have the best teachers in front of our kids because they deserved that,” Vollmer said.