ELLINWOOD — The Ellinwood USD 355 School Board discussed the shortage of teachers within the state during its March 4 meeting.
The latest numbers from the Kansas State Department of Education for fall 2018 show 612 teaching positions remain unfilled by a qualified teacher. That’s up from the 513 vacant positions from the same time last year.
According to the state, one possible explanation for the shortage is that schools have become less reluctant to report their vacancies. However, that leaves open the possibility that there are more open positions that remain unreported.
Open teaching positions are a small percentage compared to those that are actually filled, but those vacant jobs are not spread evenly across the state. According to the state, western Kansas continues to have the biggest issue with vacancies. The Kansas Association of Schools Boards says a lot of the districts struggling with open positions are those with poorer students.
The shortage is also concentrated in certain teaching fields, with special education and elementary struggling the most. About seven out of 10 vacant positions remained so because there were either no applicants or the applicants that did apply did not meet the state standards.
Superintendent Ben Jacobs reported that the district will upgrade its Automated External Defibrillators this semester. The schools currently have five situated at locations throughout the district, four of which require new batteries. The district, upon the advice of Brittany Glenn, Ellinwood EMS director, will upgrade to the Zoll brand of AED. The current brand is difficult to service and acquire replacement materials as the company filed bankruptcy.
Additionally, the batteries for these older models are extremely expensive. Over the course of the life of the AED, it is cheaper to simply upgrade to the Zoll than to continue to service current models. To purchase seven new Zolls will cost the district approximately $9,500. This will give it two additional ones to cover all locations currently utilized for district activities. It will also align the school district with the models the city uses.
Jacobs also reported that Dr. Randy Watson, Kansas Commissioner of Education, will visit the district as part of his spring tour of schools on Monday, April 1. District officials have planned activities for his arrival to highlight the great things being done in USD 355. If anyone is interested in attending, let Jacobs know.
Larry Drees, officer of the Ellinwood Public Education and Library Foundation, will attend the April board meeting to present the Foundation’s Annual Report.
• Supplemental Contracts were approved for Konner Ireland and Mike Niles, assistant baseball coachs.
• Contract extensions were approved for Middle/High School Principal Mark Cook and Grade School Principal Stacy Novak through June of 2021.
• Contracts/at-will work agreements were approved for Derek Schoenthaler, activities director; Susie Batchman, food service director); Sheri Holmes, director of library and media services; Adam Ledesma, director of maintenance; Brian Elliott, business manager, board clerk and transportation director; and Ryan Koetter, director of technology.