Salary tied to shortage of fully certified teachers
By Renata Di Gregorio, WDTV.com
State officials are working on our education system, but a challenge to this is not having enough fully-certified educators. Our Department of Education found nearly 600 teaching positions aren't filled. It seems to come down to losing teachers to other states because the salaries here aren't as high.
The good news is most of our area doesn't have as many teacher vacancies as some of our more southern counties, but that doesn't mean not having enough educators statewide doesn't affect us.
The Department of Education's Communications Director says our state ranks 46th in what we pay teachers. Where we're missing the most is in special education. We have just over 230 teaching positions there that aren't filled. The other two bigger ones are in elementary education and math.
Mike Knicely's daughter graduates from Davis and Elkins College soon to go on and become a teacher. Knicely says he expects she'll eventually leave the state in order to finally be able to pay back her student loans.
"She's probably gonna stay around here for a while, but I can't imagine it'll take a whole lot to take her away," Knicely said. "Student loans straps you pretty hard and then the teacher salary just doesn't work. It just doesn't work, you know, you work for 15, 20 years and you're still strapped with student loan debt and that's just not the way it oughta be."
On the other hand, some of you don't think an average of $46,000 a year is too little. One woman who didn't want to go on camera says she believes teachers should be paid well and that salary isn't a bad one.
But the salary isn't the only thing the Department of Education is looking at. The Communications Director says there are other factors to consider.
"Professional development, encouraging, making sure our teachers have time to collaborate with each other, always sharpening their craft, those sort of things help us with retaining teachers," said Kristin Anderson.
So what's being done about it? We have two programs in place that you'll most likely be hearing about a lot more now. The Teacher Cadet Pathway lets high school students interested in becoming teachers take beginning teaching courses.
There's also the Teacher in Residence program. It's for student teachers at a higher level that can complete their student teaching in a class where there's a vacancy and get paid for it. The hope is that then they'll go on to get their certification and take over that vacancy.