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Teachers can expect busy summer

Recruiting teachers is a challenge

POSTED May 16, 2018 4:07 p.m.

Next Thursday will be the final day of classes at Great Bend schools, but teachers will stay busy for much of the summer.
At Great Bend USD 428, summer professional development courses start on May 30, when elementary teachers will spend two days reviewing new Kansas State Department of Education standards for math and reading curricula. Those who attend will spend the mornings looking at Great Bend’s math curriculum, Envision, and then its reading curriculum, Wonders.
These are professional development offerings that teachers will be paid to attend, Assistant Superintendent John Popp said. There are some courses in the summer that all teachers are required to attend at some point. They can attend training on Project Lead the Way for grades K-6 on June 25-26 or Aug. 7-8.
Popp said he expects 35-40 new teachers this fall, which is consistent with the past few years. New teachers will report to the district Aug. 1-3 for training that includes positive classroom discipline. New teacher orientation will be held Aug. 9-10 and Aug. 13-15.
Throughout June and July, the district will offer professional development classes which can be taken for college credit through Baker University. To maintain their licenses, teachers are required to earn professional development points under an approved plan.
“I’m excited at the overall number of opportunities that teachers have to further their craft and increase their knowledge to support students in the classroom,” Popp said. “Many of our new teachers are very excited about all the opportunities they have to learn in the summer.”
A sampling of courses offered:
• “Best Practices - The Art and Science of Teaching,” June 7
• “LETRS Module 2: The Speech Sound of English: Phonics, Phonology, and Phonemic Awareness,” July 9
• “NUMBERS Module: Geometry & Measurement,” July 25-26
• “Google Classroom,” July 31

Teacher recruitment
During the board of education meeting last Monday, Popp and gave an update on the latest efforts to recruit and retain teachers.
So far this year, 24 teachers have resigned and seven more have retired. Of those who resigned, 11 said they are moving closer to family or leaving because a spouse has accepted a job in another location, three are going to teach at neighboring school districts and one is going to become a principal in a neighboring district.
The district has surveyed teachers about why they come here and why they leave or choose to stay.
The number one reason people come to this district is because of family or because a spouse gets a job here. The next most common reason is that Great Bend was the first district to offer the teacher employment.
Some teachers come here for the job and find they really like Great Bend. They stay because they have established ties in the community.
Salary and benefits are important reasons for both choosing to stay or choosing to move to another teaching job.
“We’re never going to compete with family,” Popp said. “(But), we’ve got to keep our salaries and our benefits as competitive as possible.”
School board member Jacquie Disque works at Great Bend Regional Hospital and she commented that recruiting workers is a challenge everywhere. “You have to strive to be a ‘destination employer.’ That is the new buzzword in health care,” she said.

Open positions
The district has several positions to fill, for teachers and other staff, between now and August. There are three openings for school psychologists which will be especially difficult to fill, Superintendent Khris Thexton told the school board.
“We are working on what to do if we cannot find them,” Popp said this week. “There are some plans in place, but we hope to be able to fill the spots we have.”
For these and other vacant positions, Popp said there aren’t a lot of applicants.
“We are calling universities and anyone we can think of to try to find teachers,” he said. “We are working with local people who may have a desire to teach but do not have the license to see if we can get them licensed to teach in some way.”
Three teachers were hired Monday through the Transition to Teaching Program. This allows districts to recruit professionals under a restricted license while they complete professional education courses to become fully licensed. Those hired Monday under this provision are Alana Jamison, who will teach English at Great Bend High School; Kelsey Menges, who will teach sixth grade at Eisenhower Elementary School; and Miraya Starnes, who will teach art at the elementary schools.

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