The state's top school administrator points to teacher salaries for an ongoing shortage of educators.
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - There are hundreds of schools in Indiana which don't have enough teachers to start the school year.
Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick said Tuesday the state is looking at a teacher shortage.
There are 600 open teaching spots right now. There's also a shortage of principals, other school administrators, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers. A search of the Indiana Department of Education's School Personnel Job Bank shows several positions are open at a handful of school corporations in southeastern Indiana.
About 3,500 teachers were in the classroom on emergency teaching permits in 2018.
“A lot of it goes back to pay,” McCormick told WISH-TV. “We can tip-toe around the issue, but a lot of it, when you have unemployment this low across the state of Indiana and across the nation, it goes back to pay.”
Career Ladders for Teachers Discussion:— Jennifer McCormick (@suptdrmccormick) August 9, 2019
I hear empowerment of lead-teachers through autonomy, decision making, mastery, and purpose.
I also hear compensation is irrelevant.
It DOES matter. We SHOULD compensate. It’s not all about $, but $ matters.
According to the National Education Association, Indiana’s average starting salary for teachers was $35,943 in the 2017-2018 school year. The average salary for a Hoosier teacher is $50,614. Indiana ranks 36th in the nation in both categories.
Indiana's largest teachers union, the Indiana State Teachers Association, also blames low pay for the lack of teachers across the state.
Last month, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced the state ended the fiscal year with a budget surplus, leading to the state’s cash reserves topping $2.3 billion. The governor recommended that state lawmakers move in 2020 to use $300 million of the reserves to pay for several one-time capital projects.
The ISTA urged Holcomb to put the money toward improving teacher salaries.
“It’s clear that Indiana is now in a position to make teacher pay a priority,” said ISTA President Teresa Meredith in a statement. “Gov. Holcomb has the opportunity to address a crisis that’s happening now – a teacher shortage, low teacher pay and lagging public education funding. He has recognized teacher compensation as a hurdle to attracting and retaining the best teachers, even creating a commission to address the issue. With this revenue, now’s the time to invest in Indiana’s teachers, schools and kids for the future of our state.”
Holcomb has formed the Next Level Teacher Pay Commission to investigate and make recommendations to lawmakers ahead of the 2021 legislative session, when a new two-year state budget will be formed. That commission is holding three meetings in Indianapolis, Evansville, and Elkhart this month to gather public input.