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Kingman Unified School District continues to experience staffing challenges

Kingman Unified School District is experiencing a teacher shortage. The district office is shown above. (Miner file photo)

Kingman Unified School District is experiencing a teacher shortage. The district office is shown above. (Miner file photo)

KINGMAN – Staffing challenges were one of the topics discussed at the Kingman Unified School District governing board’s monthly meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

Board member Jen Shumway pointed out that since August of this year, five certified teachers quit the district and that some classrooms are not sufficiently filled with teachers.

“One teacher that was interviewed turned down the position when offered because they found out that we are going on ground before ready,” Shumway said.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, local schools should have waited until at least Sept. 21 to partially reopen. KUSD started its rotation, with half of students on site at a time, on Sept. 8.

Shumway added that she is afraid that staffing will continue to be an issue, especially when taking into account the district’s past “record” in terms of hiring, she said.

She also asked what percentage of teachers were given the choice between working in person and working online.

District Superintendent Gretchen Dorner indicated that local teachers were not interested in online positions.

She provided the example of Kingman Online Learning Academy, the district’s optional, fully online mode of learning available to all district students.

Dorner said no teachers were interested in filling those positions and KUSD had to hire from outside of the district, where they found one of the two teachers it needs.

“So our teachers have to go teach on ground,” Shumway said.

At the same time, Shumway pointed out that currently, there’s nothing in teachers’ contracts that talks about teaching in person during the pandemic.

She asked about the possible liability the district is exposing itself to when it decides to open against the AZDHS guidelines.

“Our teachers don’t have a choice,” Shumway said.

Another issue would be the form for parents to sign, recognizing their commitment to the current process. Shumway asked if waivers were issued for parents to recognize they’re sending their children to school during the pandemic.

Dorner said that “a compact” is a more appropriate term than “waiver,” and added the district is working on a draft of such “compacts” for parents to sign.

KUSD already developed and implemented compacts for all bus riders. Each signature is a promise to follow certain guidelines delivered in a special return-to-learn booklet KUSD already distributed among students and online. To access return-to-learn, go to bit.ly/2ZEz3HQ.

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