Arkansas Department of Ed. reports statewide teacher shortage
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KATV) -- The Arkansas Board of Education reports "critical teacher shortage areas" for the upcoming 2018-2019 school year. The subject areas projected to lack teachers include Art, Chemistry, Computer Science, English/Language Arts, Family & Consumer Science, French, Journalism, Library/Media, Mathematics, Middle Childhood, Music, Physics, Social Studies, Spanish, and Special Education.
The teacher shortage is felt in Central Arkansas, too, by many school districts. One thing they all claim to have in common: they need more Special Education teachers.
"Most of the school districts-- Special Ed., that we need. And they're in all content areas," Renee Kovach, Director of Certified Staff for Little Rock School District said.
LRSD, the largest in the state, is working to fill about 30 elementary teacher positions. Meanwhile their counterpart across the river, North Little Rock School District, short about 10 teachers district-wide.
"It's hard to teach. A lot of the content, everything's changing-- a lot of the technology. As we always say as teachers, we're preparing kids for jobs that don't exist," Kovach added.
To try to combat the shortage, both school districts have been focusing heavily on recruitment. NLRSD has been hiring on teacher assistants from Harding, UCA, and Henderson State. And despite a reportedly successful recruitment fair for Pulaski County Special Schools, they say they're still short secondary level teachers of Foreign Language, Math, Science, and Special Education.
"We really try to work with trying to make those cuts and we've been able to maximize our classrooms, change some of our classrooms, but we never change what we're offering. We always offer quality for our kids," Kovach explained.
NLRSD and LRSD say they have also been bringing in more teachers through the Arkansas Professional Pathway to Educator Licensure (APPEL) Program, which allows candidates to teach while completing requirement for their Standard Arkansas Teaching License.