Statewide teacher shortage impacts the Stateline

Rockford Public School District 205 says it has 28 certified teacher position open right now.

It says it’s especially hurting for teachers who are either bilingual or have a special needs services certification. 

"Those are tough jobs and are very taxing emotionally, like most teaching jobs, and so we’re not seeing as many of individuals coming out of college with those certifications," says Matt Zediker, the chief human resources officer for RPS 205.   

The Freeport School District says it’s seeing the same void. That’s because roughly 10 percent of it’s student body speaks Spanish. Freeport schools says it’s reaching out beyond the Stateline to recruit teachers with those skills to come to the district. 

"We’ve reached out to candidates in Puerto Rico to see if anyone is interested in coming up here to teach," says Chris Shockey, the director of human resources at the Freeport School District.  

If those positions aren’t filled, some districts say they have to assign a substitute teacher. That means students may end up having two to three different teachers throughout the school year. 

"It’s all about relationships," Zediker says. "So, when a new teacher comes in there’s is a time frame where you have to build relationships, there’s trust and the time it takes to build a relationship there’s less actual learning going on." 

To make sure that learning keeps flowing in the classroom,   state leaders from our area say they’re trying to come up with solutions.

"There’s testing, there’s classroom work, and it’s pretty extensive and that may serve as a barrier to some students or other professionals," says Sen. Steve Stadelman, D-Rockford.  

"If somebody has a teaching degree, they should be able to come in and apply and get into a classroom assuming that they’ve gone through the proper credentials," says Rep. Joe Sosnowski, R-Rockford.  

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