School district desperate for levy - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

School district desperate for levy

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Post Falls district Superintendent Jerry Keane says this was the first year he noticed he had trouble finding qualified staff. Post Falls district Superintendent Jerry Keane says this was the first year he noticed he had trouble finding qualified staff.
POST FALLS, Idaho -

Legislators were surprised by the results of a recent survey on Monday when they learned Idaho is facing a teacher shortage. A hearing was held today on a career ladder bill that would increase teacher pay based on experience, for many, a hopeful solution to their shortage problem.

However, it's a problem that's slowly been creeping up on school districts in Northern Idaho. Post Falls district Superintendent Jerry Keane says this was the first year he noticed he had trouble finding qualified staff.

"We have been fortunate to be able to fill our positions, however this is the first year in recollection where that was not the case," says Keane. "We had to get some special approval from the state to hire individuals to fill positions that we just basically did not have candidates for, which is a new phenomenon for us."

According to a survey conducted by the Idaho State University's College of Education, only 10 of 65 surveyed districts were able to hire fully qualified teachers for all positions. The shortage has put pressure on current staff to take on more responsibilities. Keane has seen those struggles first hand as he's watched over the last five years three schools in his district become overcrowded. One school in particular has more than 100 students it was designed to house.

His hopes to relieve the tension comes in the form of a bond designed to help build a new elementary school. Given the news of the teacher shortage, Keane says at this point he isn't sure how that would affect the building of an entirely new school.

"We're a little concerned, but to be honest it's easier to get an elementary school teacher than it is to get a secondary teacher," says Keane.

He told KHQ the career ladder bill, in his eyes, is the most important issue facing legislators right now.

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