Local districts still face educator shortage as the 2021-2022 school new year approaches

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) – With a new school year just weeks away, local education leaders have said they continue to face a teacher shortage.

Positions are open, but no one to fill them.

“There used to be several hundred applications for a position and now we’re lucky if we have one or two,” said Beth Crider, Peoria County regional superintendent of education.

Crider said teacher pay is a big contributing factor, and now the pandemic is making things even tougher.

“We have a lot of teachers that are struggling with coming back to the classroom full time and its impact on their health,” Crider said.

In the McLean County area, Regional of Education #17 superintendent Mark Jontry said hiring specialty teachers has been the most difficult.

“We’re certainly seeing a real struggle with filling special education positions,” Jontry said.

Jontry said the lack of specialists is causing districts to find temporary help.

“The districts literally have not any applicants with an appropriate license and so those positions are going to be filled with substitute teachers,” he said.

To attract new talent, Crider said working with colleges and hiring fairs are a few tools they have utilized.

“We’re also looking for people that have 4-year degrees, that maybe are thinking about changing professions to become that essential worker, that teacher in the classroom,” she said.

Jontry also explained that getting current employees the certifications to fill open positions is another focus.

“Our higher ed institutions are trying to be responsive to that but that all takes time,” Jontry said.

Crider said in addition to teachers, Peoria County districts are in need of cafeteria staff, bus drivers, and coaches.

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