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Iowa school districts dealing with teacher shortages

Citing factors like underfunding, increased workload, classroom crowding and increasing retirements, the Iowa State Educator's Association is calling on legislators to address the issue, which has lead to some districts calling off classes for a day due to shortages

Posted: Nov 19, 2021 2:38 AM
Updated: Nov 19, 2021 6:18 AM

MASON CITY, Iowa - School districts around the country are finding themselves short on teachers, and the Hawkeye State is no exception.

The Rudd-Rockford-Marble Rock school district will not hold classes next Monday and Tuesday due to staffing shortages, according to a post on their Facebook page posted this week; those days will be made up later in the school year. In addition, Saydel High School near Des Moines recently cancelled classes for a day last week because of the same issue.

For Mason City Schools, they have not seen a massive shortage like many other districts are experiencing. Human Resources Director Tom Drzycimski says the district has been able to take action by dividing classes in half and shifting staff around, while avoiding teacher sharing or combining two grade levels together. However, this has caused class sizes to increase.

"At the higher levels, you may have a different teacher each period, but we've been able to backfill that way. Also, we've been able to, at times, divide a class where half of the class goes to another same level teacher, the other half goes with another same level teacher."

The biggest challenge the district is facing currently is having enough substitute teachers. Currently, 2/3 of their substitutes are active; the question is recruiting new.

"When you have a certified teaching staff of about 300 teachers, you have three or four absences per building, that uses up your substitutes."

Coy Marquardt is the associate executive director of the Iowa State Educator's Association. A former English teacher in the Iowa City district, he says the issue is dire. He adds that the pandemic has exacerbated a problem that has existed long before the pandemic, citing that underfunding, classroom crowding and retirements have led to an increased workload, which is leading to burnout.

"At some point, you have to look and think about what pressure we continue to put on educators and put everything on their plate, continue to add things year after year and not take anything away...the shortage has really exposed what we're dealing with now as educators and as school districts are dealing with now."

Going into next year, Marquardt says recruitment could be challenging and is imploring for legislators to make it a priority in the upcoming legislative year.

"We have to show them that we are aggressive with the health and wellbeing of educators, the respect, and giving them the tools and the support they need."

With Iowa being in competition with surrounding states like Minnesota and Wisconsin for teachers, Marquardt believes competitive pay and benefits could help address the shortage.

At the beginning of the school year, Marquardt and the ISEA tracked the number of retirements and those leaving the profession, utilizing data from job listings posted on the online Teach Iowa portal. Those numbers were up 15% compared to last year.

This year, the state of Iowa eased up on qualifications for substitute teachers to help with the shortage.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 945445

Reported Deaths: 9823
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1843762065
Ramsey766441059
Dakota69982596
Anoka66370596
Washington42195370
Stearns34679289
St. Louis30635423
Scott26894189
Wright26779230
Olmsted23165132
Sherburne19616130
Carver1733872
Clay12359110
Blue Earth1187271
Rice11789141
Crow Wing11523125
Chisago1024181
Kandiyohi10074109
Otter Tail10046132
Benton9386128
Goodhue844399
Beltrami8365101
Douglas8084101
Itasca7930102
Mower751350
McLeod743584
Isanti729086
Winona725758
Steele708334
Morrison687582
Becker639075
Polk613688
Freeborn585447
Carlton565378
Mille Lacs548781
Nicollet539661
Lyon539262
Nobles531754
Pine531444
Cass512256
Todd501045
Brown481262
Le Sueur476536
Meeker445260
Martin397146
Waseca396934
Wabasha387610
Dodge374712
Hubbard363249
Roseau325532
Fillmore314715
Wadena308440
Redwood287646
Houston281117
Renville274351
Faribault267035
Sibley263019
Kanabec262439
Pennington257330
Cottonwood236333
Aitkin230952
Chippewa224843
Pope211610
Watonwan203921
Yellow Medicine191625
Koochiching183325
Rock179529
Swift178024
Stevens173311
Jackson164216
Clearwater161322
Marshall156322
Murray154511
Pipestone153729
Lake135524
Lac qui Parle125326
Wilkin123516
Mahnomen108914
Norman106410
Grant104910
Big Stone9686
Lincoln9075
Kittson77723
Red Lake72211
Traverse6126
Unassigned582124
Lake of the Woods5355
Cook3191

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 536275

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk81677809
Linn32838430
Scott27126295
Black Hawk22334382
Woodbury20736263
Johnson20150108
Dubuque18996243
Pottawattamie16215214
Dallas15573115
Story1398059
Unassigned105670
Warren8637107
Cerro Gordo8141125
Clinton7928115
Webster7419124
Des Moines7153106
Marshall675494
Muscatine6717117
Wapello6546145
Jasper630591
Sioux622477
Lee5977106
Marion567697
Buena Vista503449
Plymouth493388
Henry427155
Benton414760
Jones413564
Bremer403873
Boone397042
Washington395464
Carroll373355
Mahaska372366
Crawford355647
Jackson324047
Dickinson317555
Buchanan312743
Delaware303255
Clay297636
Kossuth293477
Fayette290356
Hardin289253
Tama282878
Page276133
Wright270050
Cedar269527
Winneshiek267744
Hamilton262757
Floyd261049
Clayton252360
Poweshiek242043
Harrison240979
Madison237425
Butler237346
Cass235667
Iowa234336
Jefferson228544
Mills225330
Hancock222840
Winnebago222339
Cherokee217347
Appanoose210157
Lyon209842
Allamakee209456
Calhoun199519
Shelby199542
Union197141
Humboldt188231
Franklin188031
Grundy186137
Chickasaw184522
Mitchell184343
Emmet180146
Louisa178653
Sac175626
Guthrie169338
Clarke163629
Montgomery163146
Keokuk152639
Palo Alto152332
Howard150624
Monroe144340
Ida134141
Greene128818
Davis126825
Lucas126127
Monona124940
Worth12309
Pocahontas122125
Adair118239
Osceola105718
Decatur104813
Taylor100914
Fremont98913
Van Buren95922
Wayne86125
Ringgold78429
Audubon77617
Adams5869
Rochester
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