- Associated Press - Friday, May 20, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A budget gap at the Minnesota Board of Teaching is slowing down efforts to improve the state’s educator licensing system and could have implications for solving Minnesota’s statewide teacher shortage.

Erin Doan, the teaching board’s executive director, told the St. Paul Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/255o4Cc ) that a $16,000 budget gap has staff members taking a day off each week without pay. Board members also will meet online in June to save money.

The money problems mean delay in streamlining the licensing system for teachers trained out-of-state or in alternative ways. The Legislature had hoped to see those changes finished by January, but it’s now unlikely before summer.

“It’s just going to slow everything down because there are fewer people here on a daily basis to move the work forward,” Doan said.

Fixing the licensing system is vital to addressing the state’s teacher shortage and its longstanding academic achievement gap, according to many education advocates.

Doan said the Minnesota Board of Teaching was unable to operate within a $718,000 budget because of rising expenses outside of the board’s direct control. The board is seeking more funding in the state Senate’s supplemental budget, but it’s unclear whether it will pass.

Doan is concerned that the furloughs also will hamper the work of a teacher licensing task forced tasked with recommending the best way to fix the state’s educator credentialing system beginning in June.

Currently, the Minnesota Board of Teaching is responsible for setting license standards and handling appeals of licensing decisions and educator disciplinary cases.

“It is so important that we have the opportunity to share the big picture regarding the many operational constraints we experience with lawmakers,” Doan said.

For years, the way Minnesota licenses teachers has been scrutinized, as well as increasingly criticized. The state Legislative Auditor recently recommended a complete overhaul.

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This story has been corrected to say that the teaching board’s executive director is Erin Doan, not Eric.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com

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