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Nevada Kids Facing Back to School Teacher (Un)Merry Go Round

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 By Michael Clifford/Eric Mack, Contact
July 30, 2007

Exactly one month from today most public school kids in Nevada will be headed back to class. And because the state continues to have trouble attracting teachers, even more children this year are likely to be shuffled between substitute teachers. Nevada State Education Association president Lynn Warne says lawmakers did little last session to address the problem.

"One of the concerns that we don't want these kids to have is, who is going to be my teacher and will that be my teacher for the whole year, because if they've got a substitute that's probably not going to be the case."

Last school year, 14,000 students were taught by subs and Warne argues that because the Legislature didn't act, they're also growing short of substitute teachers.

Lawmakers did give teachers a cost of living increase, but Warne feels that's not going to attract new teachers to move to Nevada, even factoring in a signing bonus.

"Right now, we've got a $2,000 signing bonus, but if you look at that nationwide, that's not particularly competitive. Some of the school districts in California for example, they're offering thousands more, as well as paying all moving expenses, interest-free housing loans."

School districts are scrambling right now to fill 500 vacant teacher positions, but Warne doesn't think most of those can be filled in the next month, in time for the new school year.

"When you have a vacancy, you need to fill it with someone and so, you know, obviously we;re going to have to fill that spot with a substitute, but then again we also have a substitute shortage, so districts run out of substitutes; we've just got a shortage all the way down the line."

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