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300 jobs needed before back to school

Ashley Kracke explains a geometry assignment to her fifth grade class on Thursday, February 10, 2022, at R.F. Pettigrew Elementary School in Sioux Falls.

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Almost 300 teacher positions have yet to be filled across South Dakota, weeks before school will start back up in many of the state’s 149 districts.

That’s according to Wade Pogany, executive director of the Associated School Boards of South Dakota, which maintains a Teacher Placement Center database where educators can look online to find job opportunities.

The center’s data and openings can’t be viewed by the public, but Pogany told the Argus Leader on Friday that the website has 309 openings at this time, with 11 of them being for administrators and 298 of them for teaching positions.

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More:Shortage of classroom substitutes makes teaching and learning more difficult in South Dakota

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Most of the open positions – 65 of them – are in special education, while another 64 open positions are in elementary school, Pogany said.

“It’s out of the norm,” Pogany said, when comparing the current shortage to job openings seen in recent years. “Generally, at the end of July, we see around 200 openings. This is almost 100 positions higher than normal.”

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However, the current shortage is still smaller than the shortage seen in April when there were 520 positions open, Pogany said.

This chart shows the number of teacher openings listed by the Associated School Boards of South Dakota over the past five years. The blue line at the top is from 2020-21 and indicates about 550 teacher openings in April of 2021.

In discussions with local superintendents, Pogany said they speculate on the reasons for the shortage not only in teaching positions but also support staff.

More:Young teacher experiences burnout a few years into career, quits for banking analytics

“We’re running into labor shortages all over the place,” he said. “It’s higher than previous years, and higher than last year. As we’ve been talking about for ages, it’s a workforce issue to attract and retain teachers in South Dakota.”

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There were a number of retirements last school year, Pogany said, and people leave the profession for a number of reasons, such as the environment and the difficulty of the job.

“It’s a difficult job, but it’s a great profession,” Pogany said. “We wish more people would go into the profession. It’s a very rewarding profession to be in.”

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