LL Schools anticipate new teacher shortage

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Los Lunas Schools officials are anticipating an upcoming teacher shortage, with 22 teachers and 24 administrators retiring this year.

The number of new, graduating teachers has dwindled, said Superintendent Bernard Saiz.

"A lot of the retiring teachers might have stayed, but the mandates coming down from federal and state education departments have been very onerous and difficult demands for educators to meet," Saiz said. "I think a lot of people have decided they're just going to get out of (the teaching field) than deal with it. The problem that we run into is, there are no teachers out there right now."

Principals attending recruiting fairs throughout the state at New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico and Highlands University, are encountering a lack of recruits.

"I think the attempt to reform public schools has backfired," Saiz said. "I remember when I used to work in the personnel office and I would go on these recruiting fairs, we'd have people lined up for the district. They'd wait 30 minutes to get an interview with us to get a job."

Saiz compared the experience of one recent recruiting fair to ghost towns.

"It scares me because I've never seen it like this," said Dana Sanders, assistant superintendent. "I would say we interviewed five people from noon until 5 o'clock. Not one elementary teacher, not one came to our table, and we were in a great (location). People were just packing up and leaving at 3 o'clock because there just weren't people there, and I never see that."

New Mexico State University had only 90 graduates from the College of Education, not enough to fill the needs of the Las Cruces school district, she said.

"I talked to the Las Cruces personnel person, and he said they had 110 positions to fill this year," Sanders said.

The best place to get teachers is in the state of Nebraska, because the weather there is cold and prospective teachers are willing to move, Sanders was told.

It is not only teachers in short supply, but administrators as well.

"If you don't have teachers coming out of classrooms, you don't have administrators," Sanders said.

Los Lunas and Valencia middle schools and Los Lunas and Valencia high schools are all looking for math and science teachers.

"What we need is for young people to see that teaching is still a viable career choice," said Filipe Armijo, director of personnel. "It's something that is very rewarding and if you have this passion, you can see what you can do to change young people's lives."

Ultimately, the superintendent feels confident his staff will fill the teacher positions that are needed for the coming school year, but he is concerned for the upcoming years.


-- Email the author at dfox@news-bulletin.com.