Officials said there could be a teacher shortage for grades 5-8 at Daviess County Public Schools in the next 3-5 years due to many reaching retirement eligibility. To help combat this issue, they are working on developing new teachers through the Grow Your Own program.
DCPS Assistant Superintendent of Human Services Dr. Amy Shutt said that across core subject areas — such as science, math, English, and social studies — 25 of the district’s middle-grade teachers will reach 27 years of service in the next 3-5 years. That would make them eligible for retirement in Kentucky. Shutt the 27 years do not have to be entirely within the DCPS system.
Shutt added that some DCPS teachers have already reached the 27-year mark and are still serving, as it’s not a mandatory year for teachers to retire. She said some of the middle school teachers are likely to stick around, but with 25 more educators reaching the retirement eligibility mark on top of those already elgibile, the district is preparing for a dropoff in the workforce.
“That doesn’t mean all of them will go,” Shutt said. “That means they’re eligible and so we’re just trying to be proactive.”
In part, Shutt said the potential shortage problem arose because of the shrinking application pool.
“I think we have less people going into teaching altogether,” Shutt said.
Shutt said currently most of the teacher applications are for grades K-4, and those for grades 5-8 make up the smallest pool DCPS has.
The Grow Your Own program is designed to bring in more teachers to the field in all grades. After completing their first year of the program, Shutt said they had 10 members in the current cohort.
The program offers two specific lanes for participants. The Option 6 portion is designed for current DCPS employees who have a 4-year degree, while Option 9 is designed for DCPS graduating seniors or DCPS employees seeking their bachelor’s degree teaching certification.
For the latter option, Shutt said she visits the classes and emphasizes to high school students the importance of the skills they are learning and how they could be applied to teacher education.
“We have classes where we encourage our juniors and seniors to consider the teaching profession. I go into the classes, like the Intro to Education classes at our high schools, and talk to them about what it’s like to be a teacher and why we would like for them to consider choosing the teaching field,” Shutt said.
In addition to the program, Shutt noted that they are still trying to access and address the need specifically for middle school vacancies.
“We’re being very proactive in reviewing our data, examining it, deciding where our needs are going to be and then trying to strengthen the applicant pool for those areas,” Shutt said.