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Waverly-South Shore school district sees drop in job applicants

Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 7:01 PM CDT
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WAVERLY, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Practice for the start of football season begins in just a couple of weeks in Waverly. But the Waverly-South Shore School District is struggling to find staff for the team. And it’s the same story for other activities and teaching positions.

“It’s requiring a whole new level of creativity, a lot of cooperation, outside the box thinking to make sure that in the end, we’re not depriving our students of any kind of educational opportunity.” said Waverly-South Shore Superintendent Jon Meyer.

Meyer sent out a letter to district parents and residents, asking them to help fill roles in activities for the coming year. And along with still needing other positions, he says it’s a two edge sword of not having enough first-time teachers, and losing veterans to better paying opportunities.

“We’re losing our experienced teachers to better paying opportunities outside of education. But we’re losing our potential new teachers to better opportunities.” said Meyer.

This just isn’t a problem in Waverly-South Shore though. Although the state of South Dakota created a half cent sales tax increase for educator pay a few years ago, Harrisburg School District Superintendent Tim Graf said the state still ranks last in average teacher compensation. And he said that’s a problem for every district in the state, no matter the size.

“With dropping back to 51st in states, even with that teacher pay plan proposal a few years ago, it’s going to be harder than ever to keep up.” said Graf.

Meyer said a long term solution to a teacher shortage will be difficult, as not only are they competing with other states. But districts are also competing with other industries to retain staff as a labor shortage affects the country. But he said one option would be to not only continue to push students into the education profession, but increase salaries for veteran teachers as well.

“And I think we start by incentivizing our teachers to stay in the teaching profession. We know that the new talent pipeline, that fix is four years at minimum down the road.” said Meyer.

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