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Arkansas school districts struggling to find teachers for upcoming school year

Arkansas school districts throughout the state say they are facing "the worst teacher shortage ever."

ARKANSAS, USA — The start of school is next week for several Arkansas districts across our area. However, some districts are still in the need of teachers.

“But we will have people in those classrooms even if we don't have a permanent fix,” said Siloam Springs School District Assistant Superintendent Shane Patrick.

Siloam Springs Schools are not the only district looking to hire teachers, it's a statewide issue.

“The shortage now is like none that I've seen in the past 30 years," said Arkansas State Teachers Association Executive Director Allison Greenwood, saying it’s the worst teacher shortage she's seen.

"We're in dire straits,” Greenwood said. “We have an extreme shortage and it hasn't improved this year."

Last year, several Siloam Springs teachers left the district.

“This is the biggest turnover that we've had in the Siloam Springs School District maybe ever," Patrick said, adding that the number of teachers hired went from 40 to 80. Which is still not enough teachers for the district.

"Administrators are doing whatever they can to recruit teachers," Greenwood said.

Recruitment includes statewide and regional outreach. School districts are also finding non-traditional teachers thanks to the Arkansas Department of Education certification programs.

"Always looking for ways to get people certified to teach,” Patrick said. “If they have the knowledge and the want to, we will do everything we can to help them get certified."

Despite this, smaller districts like Siloam Springs are facing recruitment issues.

"We're not able to pay what some of our larger neighbors are paying as far as salary," Patrick said.

Patrick says his district can’t compete against larger districts like Fayetteville, which had more than 3,000 applicants for 99 positions.

"We do have to make this profession appealing to the younger generation," Greenwood said.

While every school district might not be struggling to find teachers, a lot are still looking for support staff like lunch staffers and bus drivers.

RELATED: Arkansas teachers rally for pay raises from lawmakers

RELATED: Arkansas ranked among worst states for child well-being, study says

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