Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2017

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Editorial: Teachers in short supply

It is only April and already the Clark County School District appears destined to repeat another grim reality this fall - hundreds of teacher positions unfilled.

Las Vegas Sun education reporter Emily Richmond reported Friday that district recruiters, who have been fanning out across the country since September, have interviewed 3,700 prospective candidates in their quest to hire more than 1,600 teachers.

To date, however, only 476 job offers have been extended and only 173 have been accepted.

Another sign that trouble lies ahead is the total number of applications for teaching jobs received by the district so far - just 575. Last year by this time, 1,277 applications had been received, and the district still began the fall semester 400 teachers short.

Jeff Hybarger, Goynes Elementary School principal and a volunteer recruiter for the district, told Richmond that recruiting prospects who at first seem eager lose interest after they compare living expenses here with their offered salaries. Starting teachers earn $33,043.

With seven years of experience and a master's degree, they can expect to earn an additional $10,000.

Hybarger said many prospective recruits say they will have a hard time affording an apartment, let alone a house, with those salaries.

It is outrageous that Nevada, with its vibrant economy, will not fund education at a level to ensure an adequate number of K-12 teachers. For years the Clark County School District has had to contend with massive teacher shortages, which logic dictates is accountable at least in part for mediocre student achievement.

This year the Legislature is proposing a 2 percent raise for teachers, but School District Superintendent Walt Rulffes said 5 percent is needed to significantly affect recruiting .

Legislators and the governor need to acknowledge that Nevada must approve more competitive salaries for teachers. Without higher pay, as the past several years have proven, hundreds of classes will continue being taught by substitutes.

And substitutes, competent as they may be, are no substitutes for the consistent talent brought to classrooms by fully qualified teachers.