With just over six weeks before students begin their 2022-23 school year, the Solanco School District is still working to hire teachers.
"We have 15 hired and have a number of openings," said district superintendent Dr. Brian Bliss.
The openings will fill vacancies caused by recent resignations, the superintendent said.
"We have had a lot of teachers who have traveled to get here and they're finding employment closer to home," he said, noting that at least one teacher commuted an hour each way from Berks County.
Other teachers have resigned and are leaving the profession, a trend that has increased in recent years. "And there's more mobility among experienced teachers. The days of a teacher spending 35 years in the same district is almost over," he said.
Many of the teachers who have either been hired recently or who have applied for openings are veteran educators.
"We have been hiring a number of people who have come to us with experience. I believe they want to come here because of the support our teachers receive from the community, the board, and the administrators." Dr. Bliss said. "We have been finding more applicants coming to us from other districts."
That may be in part due to the declining number of college students who major in education.
"That number has been dropping steadily in recent years. The number of new teachers earning certification has dropped by more than 60 percent. It's been that way for six years and it hasn't recovered," the superintendent said. "That means we're hiring more experienced teachers, sometimes because only experienced teachers are available."
That's been especially true with finding people who are certified to teach fifth grade. Until recently, elementary certification allowed teachers to work in grades from kindergarten through fifth grade. Changes in state regulation now require a fifth grade teacher to be certified for middle school. As of last Thursday morning, Solanco was still looking to hire three fifth grade teachers.
The district also has openings for a music teacher, a life skills teacher, a business education teacher, a second grade teacher, and an eighth grade language arts teacher.
Some of the positions he thought would be difficult to fill have not been a major problem, he said. "We have been able to hire a chemistry teacher, a business education teacher, a librarian, a French teacher, a special education teacher, and a reading specialist," Dr. Bliss said.
"There is a shortage [of teachers] and it's substantial," he said.