Western North Dakota Seeing Majority of 200 Unfilled Teaching Jobs?

According to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, more than 200 positions remain unfilled in the state’s public school districts, many in oil country.

It is a problem that is, in part, caused by the energy industry, but the effects are felt differently across the state.

The metro has seen rapid growth in the past few years, but the local school districts have managed to keep pace with demand for now.

“We aren’t experiencing a teacher shortage to the degree that perhaps some of the rural areas in the state are,” said West Fargo School Superintendent Dr. David Flowers.

A lack of teachers can leave classrooms like this one eager for students sitting empty and unused. However, a solution to North Dakota’s teacher shortage can be found just across the Red River.

“If you graduated with a teaching degree from a Minnesota college and agreed to teach at one of the rural schools that they would forgive your student loans and your education was at no cost,” said Sharon May, a West Fargo parent.

Even with a program like the one in Minnesota in place, schools in the Fargo – Moorhead area will face a different problem soon.

“We also are an aging profession in that there’s a group of baby-boomers like me that are working through the pipeline and will be retiring at some point,”said Flowers.

And even with most teaching positions staffed, metro schools still have others yet to fill.

“Harder to fill areas specifically science math at secondary level and special education,” Flowers added.

Many local parents weren’t aware of the staffing problem that schools in the western parts of the state face, but they were all concerned that staffing problems would negatively impact their child’s education.

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