Kingman school districts have to get creative in order to fill vacant teaching positions

KUSD Superintendent Roger Jacks and KAOL Executive Director Susan Chan

KUSD Superintendent Roger Jacks and KAOL Executive Director Susan Chan

KINGMAN – Teacher shortages in Kingman are prevalent and both school districts have had to get creative about filling positions, including the use of long-term substitutes and students who are in their final years of teacher preparation programs.

Kingman Unified School District Superintendent Roger Jacks said it’s always a challenge getting a full slate of teachers on board at KUSD.

“In general, we have a continual teacher shortage,” Jacks wrote in an email to the Daily Miner. “Special education teachers is our most critical need, followed by math and science.”

Kingman Academy of Learning Executive Director Susan Chan said a reduction in teaching applications and late resignations made it a difficult situation for the public charter school district.

“Students in their last year of teacher preparation programs have worked well for us and for the teachers,” Chan said. “They are receiving constant support from our staff members and are gaining great classroom experiences. These teachers are doing a fabulous job with their classes.”

Educators across the state have said Arizona needs to take a hard look at why teacher shortages are such a problem when there are plenty of certified teachers in the state who simply are unwilling to teach in this state’s public school system. Arizona has gained a reputation for a less-than-supportive environment for education.

Arizona is not the only state that is suffering from teacher retention and recruitment issues, but it certainly finds itself in the frontlines battling these issues.

KUSD and KAOL are each trying to get a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting.

“We have had success utilizing online recruitment agencies,” Jacks said. “We offer critical needs stipends for hard-to-fill jobs.”

Jacks also said that KUSD offers a competitive benefits package and gives priority to those things that are important to teachers, such as pay, benefits, mentoring, professional development, and climate and culture at the different schools.

KAOL also offers the best possible pay and benefits for its employees that the district can manage, including covering 100 percent of the insurance premium with a $300 deductible for medical, vision, dental and participation in the Arizona State Retirement System.

Those benefits are essential to recruiting, but Chan believes there are intangibles KAOL can offer.

“The most important aspect is we provide a school culture where everyone is supported and appreciated for what they bring to our school,” Chan said. “Being an educator in this day and age is extremely difficult. We try to lessen that burden wherever we can for our employees.”