Wichita schools facing a shortage of teachers

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – While some of the legal battles may be finished, the drama over education isn’t ending just yet—but the question in Wichita now is about teachers.

While USD 259 says that this isn’t a new problem, they’re down more teacher positions than usual and facing a smaller pool of potential hires.

Shannon Krysl, director of human relations for USD 259, points out that the budget freeze caused them to delay their hiring which lead to more vacancies than normal, especially in their elementary schools.

“We have made great progress, we had 69 vacancies on June 2, we’re down to 16 so we’ve made a lot of progress but still the fact that I have 16 openings,” Krysl said, “This is unheard of at this time.”

District wide, there are 17 teacher openings in Wichita high schools, 10 in middle schools, and 32 for special education.

“It’s very unheard of for me to have vacancies of that magnitude at this stage of the hiring process so that’s something we have not seen before.”

Krysl says she regularly meets with state universities and says Fort Hays, Emporia State, and Pittsburg are all-seeing a decrease in the number of student entering the college of education, some as high as a 68 percent drop.

She’s also seeing more recruiting from districts outside of the state.

“That used to be unheard of, but again, because they see an opportunity because of the negativity surrounding teaching in Kansas, they see an opportunity to recruit our teachers away.”

In the meantime, schools locally will use long-term substitutes to fill the vacancies until students graduate in December, another anomaly with this year’s batch of college students.

“Normally, with our December graduates I don’t have openings,” Krysl said, “I say to them, you need to be a substitute so that I can hire you in May, this year December grads are a hot commodity and they’re going to all be getting contracts.”

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