- Associated Press - Saturday, August 29, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Gov. Jack Dalrymple is expected to sign off on an emergency administrative rule change that will allow community members to temporarily fill vacant teaching positions.

The state Education Standards and Practices Board on Thursday approved the changes on “community experts,” which were recommended by the governor.

Under the proposed rule change, community members would be able to teach in their areas of expertise for up to one year in non-core areas, including health and physical education classes.

“It gives the Education Standards and Practice Board more flexibility to work with school districts challenged by a lack of teacher applicants, said Jeff Zent, the governor’s spokesman. “We view it as a pilot project.”

The proposal has met opposition from some educators.

Nick Archuleta, the president of North Dakota United, which represents thousands of teachers across the state, said his organization is opposed to the new rule, arguing teachers need to have more than just “content knowledge.”

The rule doesn’t address the long-term problem of teacher shortages, Archuleta said.

Earlier this month, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction gathered data that revealed 129 of the state’s 179 school districts show a combined shortage of 72 elementary positions and 102 middle school and high school positions.

Aimee Copas, executive director of the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, said that number probably hasn’t changed much. She said the difference between this year and last year is there was a pool of applicants to choose from before the school year started. She said that’s not the case this year.

“It’s really a challenging situation this year,” Copas said.

The new rule includes several conditions, including that salaries for community experts must be comparable to a first-year teacher’s salary, community experts aren’t eligible for pensions and experts must meet regularly with a school district-employed mentor.

After the 2016 school year, the Education Standards and Practice Board will prepare a report on the program with recommendations from state education groups.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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