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Arizona Education Official: Prop123 Money Could Start Addressing Teacher Shortage

Published: Monday, August 8, 2016 - 11:36am
Updated: Monday, August 8, 2016 - 5:06pm
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Alexandra Olgin/KJZZ

The school year is upon us again in Arizona and after the passage of Proposition 123, $3.5 billion in additional funding has begun to flow into classrooms around the state.

But is it being used to address what’s been called a critical shortage of teachers in the state?
Mark McCall works at the Arizona Department of Education, and his job is to help recruit new teachers to the state. While the state has no control over how districts spend the new gains, he does acknowledge that some districts are still short.

“We do still see a teacher shortage, not only in Maricopa County, but across the state," McCall said. "Anecdotally, we know of a district here in Central Phoenix that has as little as four [open teacher positions], and of one in eastern Maricopa County that has as many as 100.”

The Phoenix Union High School District is about 25 teachers short, said Craig Pletenik, the district’s communications director.

Classes started there today.

The district is bringing on about 145 news teachers. Prop 123 money helped the district give educators a raise. Brand new teachers, just out of college, make at least $40,000 Pletenik said. 

However, McCall said Arizona is still having difficulty recruiting new educators because nearby states like Nevada and Colorado are offering more money.

He says the state won’t know the exact shortage until districts report their final totals in September.

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