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August 08, 2014 06:00 PM

Teacher Shortage Growing Problem In South Dakota

Many districts blame South Dakota's historically low teacher pay for the growing teacher shortage across the state. With the first day of class coming soon, many districts are scrambling to fill open positions.

Many administrators say they used to have plenty of applicants to choose from, but with higher starting wages in neighboring states, the candidate pool is drying up.

"I'm not very far from Wyoming, and we're hearing that some of our teachers are being offered $15,000 to $16,000 more a year for the same position by crossing the state line," Rapid City School District Superintendent Tim Mitchell said.

This means there are fewer teachers applying for jobs in South Dakota. The Rapid City School District currently has 20 open positions in the classroom alone to fill, and they aren't the only district facing this problem.

"We've gone from getting 50 plus applicants per opening to six applicants maybe per opening," Hamlin School District Superintendent Joel Jorgenson said. 

Joel Jorgenson is Superintendent for the Hamlin School District, and even though all positions are currently filled in this area, he's concerned about the future.

"I don't see this changing overnight. We have a lot we have to do to move forward. It's going to take time and we're going to have to work together trying to figure out how we can get this to be a solution right now. But I see this only getting worse for the next few years as far as districts trying to fill positions," Jorgenson said.

Jorgenson says this is because there are less people going into the teaching profession, one that he says is crucial for the education of children.

"I don't know what's more important in our state than our kids," Jorgenson said.

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