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Administrator’s Corner: Managing the supply and demand of teachers

Administrator’s Corner by Jim Quiram

If you Google “teacher shortage” you will find hundreds of articles from all over the country that relay stories of teacher shortages and the measures school districts are taking in order to attract teachers. 

The same holds true for schools in Minnesota. Many reasons are cited, but it comes down to supply and demand. 

Jim Quiram

There are less potential teachers coming into teaching; in Minnesota, there is a 27 percent decrease from the early 2000s. In addition, there are more positions available. For example, in 2009 Albert Lea had 240 licensed teachers, but had 290 this year.

Here in Albert Lea, like everywhere else, we have seen the pool of applicants decrease. There’s need, especially in certain licensure areas like special education, English language learners and vocational license subject areas.  Teacher recruitment has changed quickly from “they will come to us” to “we need to seek them out.”

We have taken several steps to address the issue, such as starting our recruiting earlier in the year, focusing our recruiting efforts to areas where candidates show an interest in living in rural Minnesota, building relationships with colleges that have teacher preparatory programs, increasing the marketing of the district and the community, requesting waivers for teachers to teach in shortage areas, and seeking out potential student teachers.

We have also worked with our teacher bargaining unit to offer one of the highest starting salaries in southern Minnesota to attract new teachers, and have added more levels of compensation for advanced education in order to retain them.

Unfortunately, the projection is that this shortage will continue and even worsen. We will continue our efforts to attract and retain the best teachers for the students of Albert Lea schools.

Jim Quiram is executive director of administrative services for Albert Lea Area Schools.