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USD 308 Leadership Holds Meetings on Teacher Shortage Solutions

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HUTCHINSON, Kan. – USD 308 held staff and community meetings at McCandless, Faris, and Lincoln Elementary schools on Wednesday, May 3, and Thursday, May 4,  in an effort to gather input and answer questions about teacher shortage solutions for the district. With the goal of transparency, district leadership met at each site to engage the community in finding solutions.

The meetings provided an opportunity for staff, families, students, and community members to share their concerns and ideas regarding the teacher shortage. “The teacher turnover rate is typical for this time of year. However, we’re just not getting the applicants we usually receive to fill the positions,” stated Superintendent Dr. Dawn Johnson.

Other considerations that go into assessing the teacher shortage are declining enrollment as well as information learned from the facilities study. With the help of consultants from Schaefer Architecture (formerly Schaefer, Johnson, Cox & Frye Architecture), who specialize in maximizing school building efficiencies, the facilities study has brought to light ways the district is losing money sustaining multiple buildings while serving fewer students.

Johnson reports declining enrollment is happening across most districts in the state and definitely across Reno County schools. She continued, “Our district is in a unique position because we have all of this information, and it is coming together all at the same time.” USD 308 BoE and administration know they have fewer incoming kindergarten students; they know they have too many buildings to afford to keep them all open; and lastly, there is a dwindling teacher pipeline, leaving too many vacancies for the open positions they have.

“I’ve been in USD 308 for almost 2 years now, but I’ve been in the Hutchinson community for decades. What I know to be true about Salthawks is that we are resilient and will support each other in making difficult decisions when we know the decision is for the best. I value transparency and want to hear your thoughts and concerns about potentially repurposing schools and not filling the vacant positions. A district value I keep coming back to is excellence—Excellence in providing high-quality education, excellence in serving students and staff, and excellence in being good stewards of our finances” stated Dr. Johnson.

USD 308 has 14 certified positions currently unfilled.  District leadership has identified five possible solutions to consider in helping mitigate the teacher shortage.  More solutions were discussed and once considered but did not make the cut for final consideration if they did not meet the decision matrix criteria, some of which are addressing the teacher shortage, maximizing facility usage, maintaining the integrity of educational programs, and providing quality teachers.  Solutions being considered are from doing nothing to eliminating instructional support positions to combining elementary schools.

For more information regarding pressing district issues from Superintendent Johnson, tune in to Salthawk Talk on the district website or Facebook page. A special board meeting to discuss these issues and concerns will be held on May 15 at 6:00 p.m. in the Hutchinson Career and Technical Education Academy (CTEA) located at 800 15th Circle Drive.

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