Champaign Elementary School to hold groundbreaking ceremony

DECATUR, Ill. (WAND)- Schools superintendents around Illinois report they struggle to hire teachers as needed.

Seventy-eight percent of district superintendents surveyed believe they have some degree of problem with teacher shortages, according to a report by the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools. The problem appears most pronounced for bilingual and foreign language teachers as well as school psychologists, according to the report.

Some teachers say the state’s demanding licensure process discourages teachers from seeking work in Illinois.

“One of the biggest problems we have is it being so difficult to get that certification,” said Christopher Shugart, a social studies teacher in the Decatur school district. “By the time you get done with all the testing you have to take, you’re spending up to $600.”

Teachers say other factors discourage prospective teachers from considering Illinois, including the state’s recent budget crisis.

“Part of the problem we have too in Illinois is our pension program and the uncertainty with that for future teachers,” said Sam Mills, another social studies teacher in the Decatur district. “They don’t know exactly what (they’re) signing on for if (they) teach in Illinois.”

Jeffonne Owens, the district’s recruitment and retention specialist said district officials are using social media, traditional media, community networks and other methods to attract teachers, but she said attracting young people to the profession should start before college.

“We need to get them interested in teaching before their freshman year, and the way you do that is to speak positively about the profession, let them know they have autonomy to make some decisions and be creative with how they’re teaching their students,” Owens said.