FAIRBANKS, Alaska — A teacher shortage felt across the country has reached Alaska, leaving Fairbanks North Star Borough School District officials with a high number of positions to fill.
Officials last week had 21 certified teaching positions to fill in time for classes to begin on Aug 19. By Tuesday, only seven teaching positions were still open, but 52 support staff positions remained vacant, reported The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner.
School district spokeswoman Sharice Walker said unfilled support staff positions range from school nurses to kitchen workers. She said the number of openings is an unusual occurrence for this time of year.
As the 2014-2015 school year came to a close, Alaska schools were facing uncertainty with a likely multi-million dollar budget cut from the state’s legislature. The Fairbanks school board subsequently began issuing notices to district staff members, telling them that they may no longer have jobs with the district for the following school year.
Walker said some staff, when contacted by the district to be recalled, had already moved on to new jobs, which could have contributed to this year’s staff shortage.
Fairbanks Education Association President Nancy Duez said another contributing factor could have something to do with funding.
“When funding comes through so late, it causes a problem for our district when it comes to hiring,” Duez said. “Funding came through so late that by the time our district was able to offer contracts to teachers and go to the job fairs … a lot of those applicants were already picked up by other districts.”
The situation in Alaska is one similar to those in other parts of the country.
During the recession, many states cut teaching positions. As state budgets rebound, many districts are finding there are no teachers to fill the spots.
— Associated Press