Local schools share optimism amid teacher shortage

Speciality teachers becoming harder to find

The school year is fast approaching for teachers and students.

For some school districts, however, finding enough staff before the start of the year can be a challenge.

The declining amount of college students choosing a career in teaching has led to fewer applicants for teaching positions in the La Crosse area.

Schools said in the last two to three years, the climate in school districts is changing, and they’re hoping that will lead to more applicants in the future.

The La Crosse School District is still busy filling out its teacher roster.

“The positions that we knew about way back in the spring have all been filled, but it’s our more recent ones that have been a little more problematic,” said Mark White, human resources director with the School District of La Crosse.

Even before Act 10, which stripped collective bargaining rights away from public sector unions, including teachers, school districts faced smaller applicant pools when filling positions.

“It’s not like it was15-20 years ago. They’re just aren’t as many people out there,” White said.

That smaller applicant pool affects certain areas more than others.

“We look at our cross categorical, special education, English as a second language, those specialized teachers — it can be as little as five to 15 teachers in a pool,” said Sonya Ganther, human resources director for the Onalaska School District.

Both Onalaska and La Crosse schools said despite those concerns, the climate surrounding education is turning in a positive way.

“If that can continue and moves forward like it has been the last few years, I think we do see a few more students making that decision — making it an easier decision for them to say it’s my passion and something I really want to move into,” White said.

“Even though you look at the last five years, the number of applicants hasn’t gone down. It’s stayed the same or steadily increased.”

And that has schools looking forward to the future.

“That only helps us in the school district,” White said.

News 8 spoke to other rural districts about their staffing situations heading into the school year.

Most positions had been filled, but there are a handful of positions available due to late resignations.
Classes for most schools in Wisconsin start Tuesday, Sept. 5th.