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Schools learn teachers are tough to find

City educators and parents fear the Ironton School District’s continuing search for a certified high school chemistry teacher marks the beginning of a trend.

Thursday, September 28, 2000

City educators and parents fear the Ironton School District’s continuing search for a certified high school chemistry teacher marks the beginning of a trend.

"We need to be thinking about a lot of different things because this situation could snowball for our community," parent Teresa Parker told board members Monday.

Mrs. Parker asked the board to step up its search or find other options, like employing retired chemical engineers, seeking retired teachers or sharing teachers with other districts because a predicted teacher shortage could spell future problems for the education of the community’s youths.

At the beginning of this school year, the district began searching for another chemistry teacher after one resigned. A substitute is in place, but Mrs. Parker and others are concerned because the teacher is not certified to teach chemistry.

Superintendent Steve Kingery said Ohio University Southern Campus professor Dr. Robert Culp is assisting, but the chemistry teacher position has been posted again on the Ohio Department of Education’s Web site.

"And I’ve sent e-mail to all the superintendents in the state," he said.

On Monday, only one superintendent, in Lake County, had replied with any science teacher candidates who were not hired, Kingery said.

Parent Annette Scott suggested the school allow students to attend Dr. Culp’s evening chemistry class at OUSC.

Kingery said he would check on that idea and suggestions that the school seek help from other districts’ chemistry teachers.

Still, a math and science teacher shortage across the country has many educators worried, and planning, Kingery said.

Parents are worried, too.

"If we’re that short of teachers in math and science, maybe do what the medical community does," she said, suggesting schools offer scholarships if recipients come back to teach after college.

Ironton High School principal Larry Stall said schools will have to find ways to compete for math and science teachers, who are often enticed into working for high-paying business and industry in the private sector.

Schools need to impress upon graduates that teaching jobs are here, and those schools need strategies to attract, keep and hold those graduates, Stall said.

It seems the state is trying to change the funding system to narrow the teacher pay gap and help attract more applicants to rural areas, Mrs. Parker said.

But districts likely will still have to seek creative ways to find and keep teachers, she said.