SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Sioux Falls Schools will have 219 new teachers this year, which is almost 80 more than any of the five prior years, according to a staffing update in the August 23 school board packet.
The district averaged 141 new teacher hires in the last five years. Those new hires are more diverse and have more experience than in prior years, according to the report.
The school district needed to hire more teachers because of the new Ben Reifel Middle School and Jefferson High School. But there were also more teacher resignations this year than in prior years.
Eighty-seven teachers resigned this year.
Some teachers left the profession while others made a move with family.
Fifty-one teachers left to teach somewhere else. Twenty-nine didn’t go too far as the district said they left for a nearby school district.
Two left for other districts in South Dakota.
Twenty-two teachers left to teach in other states.
Sioux Falls did get more teachers from other states this year than it has in prior years. Most of those teachers came from Minnesota and Iowa.
The district had fewer applicants to choose from this year than in five prior years.
The district had 671 applicants. That’s about 150 fewer than last year, which had 824 applicants.
Sioux Falls is competing with other districts for those 671 applicants.
“Although a pool of nearly 700 applicants may seem robust, these applicants also pursue opportunities in districts that border Sioux Falls and across the Midwest,” the staffing update said.
Some of those other districts, including nearby districts, pay teachers more than Sioux Falls.
According to South Dakota Department of Education data, the base pay for teachers in the Sioux Falls District was $37,044 for the 2019-2020 school year. The number is the most recent available from the state.
“Baseline salary is the bottom number in the district’s salary schedule. This number would likely be offered to a teacher with 0 years of experience and a bachelor’s degree,” the DOE said on its website.
Although Sioux Falls increased its base pay to $41,000, it would still be lower than several other districts in the state, according to DOE data.
Brandon Valley’s base pay was $46,550, the base pay in Harrisburg was $43,650 and Yankton’s was $44,100.
The district was able to hire a mix of teachers with no experience and teachers with an average of about five years of experience. Seventy-nine of 219 hires have no experience which means they’d get the base pay of $41,000.
South Dakota ranks 50th in average teacher salary, according to the National Education Association. The average pay is $48,984.
The average teacher salary in Sioux Falls is $53,356 as of July 28, but the range typically falls between $46,584 and $61,599, according to salary.com.
The average teacher pay in Iowa is $58,184, according to the NEA. It’s $58,663 in Minnesota.
Thirty-nine candidates rejected contracts compared to 15 last year and 12 in 2019-2020.
Where do the new hires come from?
Applicants were looking for jobs across the area and Midwest. Fifteen of the new hires relocated from Minnesota and 11 relocated from Iowa, the two most popular states for hires outside of South Dakota.
But, few of those Minnesota or Iowa hires with prior experience came from bordering school districts.
Sioux Falls found new hires from within the district as 46 former substitutes were hired. Another 22 were former education assistants, specialists, employment contract, former part-time or miscellaneous staff or former clerical employees in the district.
Local businesses and entities were also the former job site for some teachers. Three each came from roles at Avera and Sanford.
The district is not drawing a large number of teachers with experience from other districts in South Dakota. Nine teachers came from other districts in the state.
While new hires have an average of 5.16 years of experience, about 79 are new to the teaching profession.
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The average experience was boosted by the level of experience in new speech pathologists.
Sioux Falls significantly increased the pay for speech pathologists for the 2021-2022 school year
An increase in diversity
This year’s new hires increased the overall staff diversity percentage to 4.8%. The diversity make up of the new hires is 13.3%.
The percentage was 7.95% last year and 5.84% in 2019-2020.
How does the district find new teachers?
For teachers and other staff hirings, the district used social media, targeted online messages and videos.
“Similar to years past target messages through social media proved to be the greatest recruitment tool,” the staffing update said.
What’s left to hire?
The district still needs five special education teachers one high school teacher, 2.5 middle school teachers and a half-time elementary teacher.
The report said interviews will continue until positions are filled or until alternative schedules or staffing arrangements are made.
The district has hired 107 education assistants but 35 more support staff are still needed.
By late fall, the district must hire a minimum of 250 substitute staff.
The district will again turn to social media, online messages and videos to recruit for those positions.
The district’s website, referrals from other employees, and an online hiring site are also popular with applicants.