- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 6, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - A monthly survey shows that the number of South Dakota teacher vacancies continued to decrease last month, marking the sixth straight month in which the figure was lower than it was 12 months earlier.

The Teacher Placement Center reported 186 openings in June compared to the 215 in June of 2015, the Argus Leader reported (https://argusne.ws/29msBOG ). However, the end of the state’s teacher shortage may not be in sight, as many teachers are reaching retirement age and not enough are joining the profession in the state.

“The numbers are encouraging, but I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet,” said Randall Royer, director of the state’s Teacher Placement Center.

The Legislature approved a half-cent sales tax hike this year to put more than $60 million in new funding toward boosting South Dakota’s lowest-in-the-nation pay for teachers to a target average of $48,500 per year. Royer said it would be fair to assume that the pay hikes that teachers are seeing influenced the job opening numbers.

“If a teacher’s looking to leave a district and all of a sudden they get a $5,000, $6,000 (or) $8,000 raise, they’re probably going to think twice about that,” Royer said. However, he said the state needs more people to choose careers in education.

The newspaper reported that despite the decrease in overall job openings, districts are still struggling to fill in positions for math, music and special education teachers. In the Sioux Falls School District, for example, half of the district’s dozen openings are for special education teachers.

“Even though the number is lower than last year, we still have some positions that we are working very hard in special education to get filled,” said Becky Dorman, the district’s human resources director.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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