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School districts continue to deal with educator shortages

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 10:25 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - The need for educators is only getting worse as some school districts try to fill open vacancies.

“All areas are shortages with the exception of school administrators,” said Becky Pitkin, the executive director of the North Dakota Education Standards & Practices Board.

In North Dakota, there’s a certain protocol on how to determine educator shortages.

“We look at positions that are unfilled, positions filled with emergency licenses, and then we come to some sort of consensus on the numbers of shortage areas,” said Pitkin.

The state issues emergency licenses to help districts fill open positions.

Between July and August, there have been 141 emergency licenses issued.

The educator shortage has only gotten worse within the last five years and one Pitkin says.. she may know why.

First of all, I think that we are building more and more schools in the state we need more teachers. There is more than one teacher often in classrooms so there’s not one teacher per one group of students,” she said.

In our region, some districts have more of a need for certain types of positions than others.

Fergus Falls has a shortage of substitute teachers, but they’re not alone.

West Fargo currently has more than 10 openings for substitutes and Moorhead has 5 vacancies.

As for Fargo Public Schools, there is a need to fill jobs in other areas, like special education.

They’re down 5 teachers.

If you include special education paraeducators, that number jumps to nearly 25 openings.

Pitkin says work is being done to make things better. They’re focusing on promoting the practice of teaching along with addressing barriers.

“Our board has looked at what are some barriers that we could possibly remove ones that don’t negate the quality of the teacher, but to provide more access for teachers,” she said.

To qualify for an emergency license in North Dakota, an individual must submit an academic transcript show 48 hours of college coursework, pass a background check, and commit to finishing a teacher education program.

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