As Lompoc Unified School District continues to deal with the effects of a statewide teacher shortage, the district’s board of education approved a measure Tuesday night that is expected to help fill needed positions.
The board unanimously approved the adoption of a "Declaration of Need for Fully Qualified Educators” at Tuesday night’s meeting. The declaration, which will be submitted to the Commission on Teacher Credentialing for the 2016-17 school year, will allow the district, in the event that it is unable to hire fully qualified teachers, to offer positions to intern teachers who are in the process of obtaining a credential.
Areas in which teachers are particularly needed, according to LUSD staff, are speech/language, special education and math.
LUSD is currently looking to hire 35 teachers, according to Lore Desmond, the district’s interim assistant superintendent of human resources.
Of that 35, nine are needed for special education, four for math, eight for multiple elementary school subjects and 14 for various secondary school subjects.
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“At this point, LUSD is in a good position as it pertains to staffing its schools, but it is our experience that new staffing needs arise later in the year and over the summer,” Desmond said.
“While it is always our desire to put fully credentialed teachers into our classrooms, this declaration gives us the opportunity to employ intern teachers who are enrolled in a credential program.
“Hiring less-than-fully-certificated teachers is a last resort in case vacancies remain at the beginning of the school year and classrooms must be staffed,” she added.
The declarations are filed annually by the district. Five teachers were hired under the provisions of the declaration for the 2015-16 school year.
California is one of several states dealing with a teacher shortage that has grown in recent years.
The results of a study released in January by the Learning Policy Institute found that the supply of new teachers in the state is at a 12-year low, even as demand for teachers has risen.
In 2014-15, according to the LPI report, provisional and short-term permits — those issued to fill “immediate and acute” staffing needs when a fully credentialed teacher can’t be found — nearly tripled from the number issued two years earlier, growing from about 850 to more than 2,400.
Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.