Teacher shortage impacting Southern Illinois Schools

Teacher shortage impacting Southern Illinois Schools

MT. CARMEL, IL (WFIE) - Wabash Community Unit Schools Superintendent Chuck Bleyer has to fill around four or five positions every school year.

He told us they are lucky if three people apply for a position, but sometimes, they may only have one.

Rising college tuition costs and low-pay in starting level teaching positions have may have deterred young people from becoming educators.

“So that became very difficult for young people, they forecast their lives and said, 'I don’t know,” said Bleyer.

So not only are there fewer applicants, but he believes there is another problem too.

“The applicants that apply are qualified but the talent pool is very shallow. All of that matters and when you can only choose from maybe two people, sometimes one, you’re just going to get what you get,” said Bleyer.

Bleyer said elementary education has the deepest talent pool, but positions in subjects like science and math can be even harder to fill. It is the cost of higher education that concerns him the most.

The state of Illinois has discussed a possible solution that would allow tuition to be waived if a student served in the public school system for a certain amount of years.

“That would be a massive influx of students into the system because getting that tuition waved is probably the major hindrance for students right now because of the cost," said Bleyer.

Right now, his school system is not understaffed. They are properly staffed, however, they are very thin so the margin of error is pretty small. He says, as more teachers retire, that status could change.

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