- Associated Press - Thursday, October 8, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas had more than 300 vacant teaching positions at the beginning of this school year, but state officials say some of those vacancies may be filled in the coming months.

The Kansas Department of Education said the numbers showing there were 317 vacant teaching positions in early September are from the first stage of a study the department is conducting to determine why some districts can’t fill certain positions, The Wichita Eagle reported (https://bit.ly/1hssIWS ).

The department previously administered a survey for the U.S. Department of Education on teacher demographics. But this year the state started conducting its own deeper survey.

School districts reported their vacant teaching positions as of Sept. 1, and in February will tell the district whether they filled those positions and if not, why.

“When we close the loop (in February) we’ll really have a better idea of what happens this year,” said Scott Myers, director of teacher licensure and accreditation. “And as we move forward then we’ll have all sorts of data points. When we get to year three of this we’ll have six different data points to draw conclusions from.”

Under the current data, the Wichita school district had the most September vacancies with 64. Dodge City and Garden City were next with 47 and 35 vacancies, respectively.

Susan Helbert, assistant director of teacher licensure and accreditation, said reasons why districts can’t fill certain jobs include being unable to find anyone qualified for the job and budgetary constraints.

Special education accounted for 46 of the vacancies throughout the state, and mathematics accounted for 38.

Mark Tallman, spokesman for the Kansas Association of School Boards, said it has always been difficult to fill special education positions.

“There really are concerns across the state that we are again having problems getting people to apply or finding people we feel are really qualified to do it,” he said.


Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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