Majority of Illinois school districts report teacher, substitute shortages

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Some local schools are in crisis facing both a teacher and substitute shortage.

“Not having qualified teachers in the classroom is a serious problem,” said Beth Crider, Regional Superintendent for Peoria County.

A statewide survey, conducted by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, reported a majority of districts said they have staffing issues. Read the full survey report below.

“On Monday, we had over 75 positions posted,” said Mark Jontry, Regional Superintendent of McLean, DeWitt, Logan, and Livingston Counties.

Crider said it started with specialized subjects: special education, foreign language, and math, but the shortage is only getting worse.

“Now we’re seeing it across the board. Where we used to have several hundred applicants for one 8th grade science position, now we’re having none,” said Crider.

Leaders said the pandemic is adding to the problem too.

“We are thinking we’re going to lose even more teachers,” said Crider.

Crider said many substitutes are in high-risk categories for COVID-19 and chose not to return. Quarantines could take a teacher out of the classroom for two weeks.

“Some schools had to go fully remote because they simply couldn’t staff their buildings,” said Crider.

Leaders said teacher shortages could hurt students.

“It’s logical that we have students who are getting short-changed,” said Jontry.

To solve the problem, districts are looking for ways to get people with college degrees who work in other fields certified in teaching.

“How can we fast-track those people and get them teaching licenses and getting them in our classrooms?” asked Crider.

Other districts are using “grow your own” programs to target high schoolers early. Jontry said it will take time to reverse the tide.

“There’s not just one solution that will fix this it’s a myriad of solutions,” said Jontry.

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