Local schools still struggling to find enough teachers - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Local schools still struggling to find enough teachers

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MURPHYSBORO -- The struggle to attract qualified teachers to Illinois schools has gotten worse. After years of dealing with teacher shortages, local districts say they've had to find alternative ways to get the job done.

When a position for a science, special education or P.E teacher opens, Murphysboro High School Principal Tony Wilson says he gets a little nervous. Those positions, in particular, have become increasingly more difficult to fill. 

"We just posted a P.E. job last year and I got one applicant and that applicant didn't work out and we were unable to fill the position," said Wilson.  

Wilson says five years ago, it wasn't uncommon to see more than a hundred applicants for one position. Now, it's difficult to get anyone qualified to apply. So he's started making calls to colleges, hoping to attract students getting ready to graduate.  

"We are more or less trying to find these applicants, recruit these applicants, instead of them approaching us," said Wilson. 
     
Meridian Superintendent Spencer Byrd says he's faced the same problem. Even so, he still hasn't been able to find a science teacher for more than a year. 

"We have had to supplement our science curriculum with online classes. Right now, the majority of our freshman class is taking science online," said Byrd. 

According to a report from the Illinois Board of Education from 2000 to 2015, enrollement in bachelor teacher education programs have dropped from more than 24 thousand, to nearly 15 thousand.

Wilson says at MHS, some teachers are already teaching outside of their content area just to bridge the gap. He says he's crossing his fingers the shortage doesn't get any worse. 

"We are definetly in danger of losing programs and classes due to the shortage," said Wilson. 

News Three reached out to the SIU College of Education and Human Services. The Dean there tells us, while the stringent requirements and state budget crisis didn't help the situation, the problem lies much deeper. They believe stagnant salaries and the state not investing in schools are among the issues to blame.  

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