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Resolution Recognizes Teacher Shortage

January 20, 2014, 6:30 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Resolution Recognizes Teacher Shortage

There's a teacher shortage in the state. At least that's what a resolution passed by the South Dakota House of Representatives says.

The resolution recognizes school districts in the state are struggling to retain qualified teachers and fill positions. It also says legislators will join school officials looking for solutions.

The House passed the resolution; the Senate hasn't voted yet.

At the Mobridge-Pollock High School, administrators want the equivalent of two or two and a half math teachers. This school year, they have one.

"In the last two years, we've really struggled to get quality applicants in the math, the sciences, special education," superintendent Tim Frederick said.

Frederick says the district also started the year down one special education teacher. He recently filled that job. He hopes the additional math position is filled by next year.

He knows a resolution in the legislature doesn't mean anything has become law, but he's happy to see the attention the issue is receiving.

When the resolution passed the House, 18 representatives voted against it. Rep. Dan Kaiser (R-Aberdeen) was one of them.

"The wording was too open,” Kaiser said. “I think there are a lot of legislators out there who agree with me and others that say our schools are in need of some help financially, training for the teachers and retention."

But Kaiser wants to know more about the solution. The resolution calls for exploring tuition reimbursement and other programs or policies that could help. He wants to know what those other programs or policies might be before showing his support.

"And the thing is about a resolution is it doesn't carry the weight of law, but it does guide the legislature in the bills that we're going to see in the future," Kaiser said.

In Mobridge, Frederick is anxious to see what those bills might be. He says the state needs to look at teacher salaries. He expects the conversation to go beyond that, as well.

"I think that people understand there is a teacher shortage and that we need to address it. And I think there're a number of ways that we can do that," Frederick said.

The resolution talks about the shortage spanning South Dakota but says it’s especially true in rural areas.

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