Kansas looking to recruit teachers, amid state budget concerns

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Kansas Department of Education released a series of YouTube videos Wednesday as part of a marketing campaign to recruit more teachers in Kansas.

A year ago, Kansas Education Commissioner Randy Watson formed the Blue Ribbon Task Force.

It is made up of several teachers, human resources staff, superintendents, school board members, and a variety of others across the state.

USD 259 Board Member Betty Arnold is part of the task force.

“The task force came together with the idea of looking at ways that we could recruit new teachers, retain those teachers we have, but encourage people to go into teaching,” said Arnold.

Arnold says the constant budget struggles districts face makes recruiting teachers difficult.

“One thing hinges on the other, which hinges on the other and not knowing what we are going to have, it does make it difficult,” said Arnold.

Arnold says it also makes it harder to properly compensate the teachers they already have.

“There are states coming here recruiting our teachers that can offer them a better compensation package then we are able to offer,” said Arnold.

The new marketing campaign talks about all of the teaching opportunities available now in Kansas.

Wichita State University senior Ashley Hicks thought about leaving Kansas but decided to stay home.

“I was considering moving to the region of Dallas, I had opportunities there as well,” said Hicks.

Hicks graduates on Saturday and hopes other teachers will give Kansas a chance as well.

“Recruiting can work, but you have to recruit and also offer something as well,” said Hicks.

The last report from the Blue Ribbon Task Force in 2016 showed that the number of students graduating from the 25 teacher preparation programs in the state has been on a gradual four-year decline.

The report shows the numbers have decreased from nearly 2,300 in 2011 to 1,900 in 2014.

It also shows about a fourth of the teachers in the state, have less than five years of teaching experience.

KSN checked with USD 259 to see where they stand right now on the number of teachers they have.

Officials with the district say they have about four thousand teachers employed right now.

That number is subject to change over the next few weeks, due to retirements and whether some teachers decide to stay or leave the district.

USD 259 says the number of teacher vacancies they have is on par with this time last year.

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