CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WMBD) — Peoria public school board members have the topic of teacher shortages on the agenda tonight, but staffing issues is a statewide concern at schools.

According to the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, there are almost 1700 unfilled teaching positions around the state. Adding in other unfilled school positions, the number exceeds 2000.

Regional Superintendent for Peoria County Beth Crider said there are a host of reasons for why there are a lack of teachers.

“Dealing with parents and dealing with difficult behaviors, at some point teachers just say ‘I can make just as much money working somewhere else,’ so absolutely there’s a lot of different things we need to work on when it comes to solutions,” Crider said.

In McLean County, Dr. Kristen Weikle, who is the superintendent for Unit 5 school district, says the pandemic caused some people to realize they liked working from home better than working in-person.

“When it comes to educating students, we provide in-person services to our students, so we do need individuals who are willing and wanting to be in-person with students five days a week,” Dr. Weikle said.

For Crider, she is looking at solutions. One such solution she’s looking at is called alternative licensure.

“If you have a 4-year degree in something you’re not working in, we can take that and move it towards teacher licensure, so we’re hoping our local universities will partner with us on that,” Crider said.

Crider also says that she hopes things will work out, but she has her doubts. She thinks there need to be wholesale changes if things are to change.

“Each year that I’ve been in this office since 2011, it’s only gotten worse, and we predicted that this was coming and it’s here, so we all need to work together towards solutions,” she said.