Faculty leaders work to counter instructor scarcity

Throughout Johnson County, faculty directors are going through a two-pronged staffing disaster — seeing fewer certified candidates are making use of for brand new educating positions and dozens of lecturers are leaving for different jobs.

Clark-Nice Group Faculty Company had 118 instructor resignations throughout the 2021-22 and 2022-23 faculty years mixed, and at Middle Grove Group Faculty Company final fall, disputes about wages resulted in instructor protests in school board conferences. The protests adopted 56 instructor resignations throughout the 2021-22 faculty yr, 50 of which had been for causes aside from retirement.

Faculty districts are additionally seeing fewer younger folks following educating as a profession. County colleges have turned to cadet educating applications, which permit highschool college students to shadow full-time lecturers, and student-teaching applications, which let faculty college students pursuing training levels get a style of life within the classroom whereas incomes credit score.

This spring, Middle Grove officers held the college district’s first signing ceremony for future lecturers, guaranteeing alumni a first-round interview in the event that they apply to show on the district after attaining their faculty levels.

The problems of instructor resignations and a lower in certified candidates are widespread themes throughout the nation, and have been because the begin of the pandemic in 2020. In seven states, extra lecturers left the occupation than any yr on file, based on an article from Chalkbeat, an training reporting web site.

Whereas Indiana didn’t have file turnover, there are a lot of vacancies in districts throughout the state as the college yr approaches. On the Indiana Division of Schooling’s job board, there have been greater than 1,700 educating jobs nonetheless open statewide as of Friday.

Fewer faculty college students are fascinated with changing into lecturers. From 2006 to 2020, the variety of Individuals incomes educating licenses progressively dropped from over 320,000 to simply over 215,000, based on the Chalkbeat article. In 2022, 62 % of respondents to skilled educator group PDK Worldwide’s Public Attitudes Towards the Public Faculties ballot mentioned they wouldn’t need their baby to grow to be a instructor, the best share within the ballot’s 54-year historical past.

The speed of lecturers leaving the occupation and declining curiosity within the training occupation amongst younger adults have precipitated concern amongst faculty leaders all through Johnson County.


Instructor salaries proceed to be a subject of dialog, from Edinburgh colleges, the smallest district within the county, to Middle Grove colleges, the most important.

Final yr, about 66% of voters in Johnson County’s Blue River Township and Bartholomew County’s German Township voted to extend the training contribution of their property taxes about 40% over eight years so Edinburgh colleges may increase instructor salaries, enhance faculty safety, rent bus drivers and purchase further faculty buses.

With out referendum cash, Edinburgh colleges needed to depend on help from the state to spice up salaries to fulfill the $40,000 Indiana instructor wage minimal. This yr, these further property tax {dollars} are beginning to roll into the district, which is able to come into play this fall with instructor raises on the desk throughout collective bargaining.

Nevertheless, the variety of lecturers leaving the districts nonetheless enhance, from 10 to 13, between the 2021-22 faculty yr and final yr, Superintendent Ron Ross mentioned in an e-mail.

Basically, it’s tougher to retain employees than it has been in years previous, Ross mentioned.

“This can be a development throughout the nation in a number of fields, not simply training. Take a look at the wages that McDonald’s is keen to pay to draw employees,” he mentioned. “We’re focusing our retention efforts on relationship-based options. We would like our workers to know they’re doing vital work and that they’re greater than only a quantity. We care about them as workers and as folks.”

However the problem of wages isn’t only a level of competition at smaller faculty districts. Final fall, Middle Grove faculty board conferences had been filled with lecturers carrying picket indicators and voicing their disapproval over proposed contracts.

The negotiations lasted by December, when the Middle Grove Board of Trustees voted to approve a 5.65% pay increase for lecturers, together with a $500 retention bonus and an insurance coverage vacation for one pay interval.

Members of the United Lecturers Affiliation of Middle Grove, or UTACG objected to the share all through the negotiations as a result of it was the identical enhance given to directors, who already made considerably greater than beginning lecturers. Superintendent Wealthy Arknaoff, for instance, now makes $237,981, greater than 5 occasions the $46,015 minimal wage for a full-time instructor at Middle Grove colleges, based on knowledge from Indiana Gateway.

Faculty district directors fashioned the Instructor Recruitment, Retention and Recognition taskforce, which centered on methods to not solely preserve lecturers on the faculty district, however entice new ones. In the course of the 2022-23 faculty yr, 33 lecturers resigned, district spokesperson Stacy Conrad mentioned in an e-mail.

The determine is a marked lower from the 56 who resigned the yr earlier than, however work nonetheless must be performed on the wage entrance to ensure these numbers don’t choose again up once more, mentioned David Lawson, UTACG co-president and English instructor at Middle Grove Excessive Faculty.

“I believe we’ve tried to share the sense of urgency about colleagues pay in different districts. I believe our district has taken good steps to make sure a pipeline of fine lecturers, however we want aggressive pay and advantages,” Lawson mentioned. “I believe a way of urgency must be heard and felt throughout the district.”


Together with a battle to extend instructor wages, instructor stress has elevated in recent times, as educators needed to educate college students just about throughout the a lot of the pandemic. Even after courses shifted again to in-person, rising tensions with dad and mom and new legal guidelines affecting training from the state legislature all performed components in lecturers deciding to not simply depart their faculty districts, however the occupation altogether.

Whereas Franklin Group Faculty Company had a profitable instructor wage referendum in 2019, and raised beginning instructor salaries to $46,000 throughout the 2022-23 faculty yr, its 23 instructor resignations had been an actual match of the earlier yr, human assets director Michelle Vivid mentioned.

“There are a whole lot of calls for,” she mentioned. “It’s not nearly educating and instruction anymore, there are such a lot of issues at each stage that make educating laborious, from state requirements to coping with dad and mom and a few of the behavioral points from college students. Behavioral points, we’re coping with all the time, however I believe there’s been higher, greater points with college students. They’re coping with these issues, and all these issues grow to be overwhelming for lecturers. It’s only a lot.”

Legal guidelines that prohibit what might be mentioned within the classroom and divert lecturers’ consideration away from lecturers will finally drive extra of them away, mentioned Tony Harris, president of the Franklin Group Lecturers Affiliation.

Whereas Harris didn’t single out any particular legal guidelines, a number of Johnson County lecturers lately voiced their opinions about Home Enrolled Act 1608, which took impact July 1 and requires colleges to inform dad and mom if a toddler requests a reputation or pronoun change.

“We’re at a bizarre place in Indiana the place laws has taken a chew out of lecturers. Till a few of that adjustments, I don’t see (instructor shortages) altering,” Harris mentioned. “I simply assume sure legal guidelines handed proper now have put a lot stress on lecturers. It’s not nice for colleges, however it’s the world we stay in proper now. I believe over time, we’ll type of get again to regular. If not, we’ll proceed to see this.”

At Clark-Nice colleges, which had 61 lecturers resign two years in the past and 57 lecturers resign throughout the 2022-23 faculty yr, a few of the greatest lecturers are leaving training, mentioned John Schilawski, the college district’s HR director.

“We’ve got those that are leaving training typically and it’s slightly unhappy, as a result of I’ve had some superb lecturers who’ve taken different actually good alternatives,” he mentioned. “A number of occasions, they’ll discuss cash, they’ll discuss burnout. For a few of the youthful ones, it’s numerous completely different adventures. There are a whole lot of alternatives for folks and that’s why now we have to get again to our core of constructing relationships.”

Retention efforts

Faculty districts have centered on constructing relationships with present educators, growing salaries and offering lecturers with psychological well being companies as methods of retaining them.

Middle Grove faculty board members permitted a brand new 5,800-square-foot, $6.1 million wellness heart for workers members in April. The middle will embrace medical examination rooms, a health heart, psychological well being session rooms and a devoted house for bodily remedy, together with an out of doors strolling path.

The Wellness Middle will probably be key in retaining lecturers, assistant superintendent of operations Invoice Lengthy mentioned in March.

“We’ll have an area utilized for bodily remedy for our workers. They’ll be capable of stroll on a treadmill or experience a motorcycle. We’ll even have a classroom house the place we’d educate a lesson on yoga,” he mentioned. “Our hope is the Wellness Middle will assist entice and retain lecturers and supply good high quality psychological well being look after our workers and relations.”

At Indian Creek colleges, instructor resignations decreased from 17 throughout the 2021-22 faculty yr to 10 resignations final yr. Assist is very vital for brand new lecturers who’re getting adjusted to the occupation, mentioned Andrea Perry, assistant superintendent.

“It’s creating constructive faculty tradition. I believe our neighborhood undoubtedly helps educators and what they’re doing with college students,” Perry mentioned. “One thing we initiated in our college district is a mentorship program, spearheaded by our directors. They meet with new lecturers, who’re assigned a mentor instructor of their faculty constructing. I believe it’s important to assist lecturers of their first yr.”

At Clark-Nice colleges, directors have used scheduled wage will increase as incentive for lecturers to proceed working within the district. Lecturers earn a minimum of $53,000 after 5 years of educating, $58,000 after 10 years and $63,000 after 15 years with the district, Schilawski mentioned.

“A few of these kinds of issues have helped. It turns into a bidding battle and cash can entice expertise, however tradition is what retains it,” he mentioned.

At Greenwood Group Faculty Company, instructor resignations decreased from 28 throughout the 2021-22 faculty yr to 22 throughout the 2022-23 yr. The college district has a beginning wage of $48,000 for full-time lecturers, additionally one of many highest charges within the county. Ensuring all lecturers are paid competitively has been key in ensuring lecturers don’t depart the district at a excessive fee, Superintendent Terry Terhune mentioned.

“It’s been a precedence for the district to be aggressive with instructor salaries,” Terhune mentioned. “We’re making an attempt to create the very best surroundings and assist lecturers as a lot as attainable. This summer time, extra lecturers got here to skilled improvement than we had earlier than the pandemic. These are alternatives for them to study and develop.”


Whereas faculty officers’ efforts can retain lecturers for years to return, they are going to ultimately want to switch them when these lecturers retire or transfer on to their subsequent chapter in life, which is the place recruitment comes into play. With fewer folks expressing curiosity within the educating occupation, the necessity for recruitment is rising, faculty officers say.

As Middle Grove’s Instructor Recruitment, Retention and Recognition taskforce held conferences to give you methods to get new candidates fascinated with educating on the district, they seemed inside. Could 9 marked the college district’s first signing ceremony for future lecturers, as 20 Middle Grove Excessive Faculty seniors fascinated with learning training in faculty signed agreements that granted them a first-round interview ought to they apply to work at Middle Grove colleges after faculty.

By incentivizing college students with a first-round interview, college students will know their time at Middle Grove helps doubtlessly construct a profession for them, HR Director Krista Nelson mentioned on the occasion.

“Our hope is after they come again right here, we will present them the good instructional expertise that not solely they’d as a scholar, however the nice employment expertise that they will have inside Middle Grove colleges,” she mentioned. “Being a instructor, you might have the chance to make a distinction for our youngsters each single day.”

At Indian Creek colleges, a cadet educating program permits highschool college students to shadow lecturers within the classroom to see if training is the best path for them, Perry mentioned.

“I believe our college students are studying from our personal (lecturers) and I believe they’re a part of our college tradition, the place as soon as they full the faculty years they need to come be a instructor and keep right here long run,” she mentioned.

Clark-Nice officers have gone out of state, visiting Xavier College in Cincinnati to recruit candidates at job gala’s, Schilawski mentioned.

“Relationships grow to be crucial. From the time you meet candidates, your massive factor is making an attempt to draw them. However there’s a gross sales pitch, you need to make your self completely different from a few of the different colleges,” he mentioned. “We’ve got a good maternity depart coverage, now we have actually good retirement advantages. You’ve gotta know what to say in a quick period of time to spark their curiosity.”


Instructor resignations by faculty district

Middle Grove 2021-22: 56 2022-23: 33 Clark-Nice 2021-22: 61 2022-23: 57 Edinburgh 2021-22: 10 2022-23: 13 Franklin 2021-22: 23 2022-23: 23 Greenwood 2021-22: 28 2022-23: 22 Indian Creek 2021-22: 17 2022-23: 10

Supply: Johnson County colleges