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Superintendent Press Release April 14, 2023

Dear Cedar Bluffs Families,

The teacher shortage is real. I was speaking to one of our teachers this year who was taking a college science class. If you didn’t know, teachers are required to have continuous education credits to keep their license. She indicated that in her class there were 24 students studying science and she was the only one in education. The other 23 were getting degrees to work in health-related fields where jobs on average paid $80,000 once they obtained their bachelor’s degrees. Our starting salary for teachers with a bachelor’s degree next year is $39,500 and we are one of the higher paying districts in the State. Teachers who have a master’s degrees start around $50,000. Horace Mann did a survey in February 2023 and found that 63% of educators said they would be leaving the profession in the next three years. The data suggests that spiking stress levels, student behavior challenges and a harsh political spotlight have all taken their toll on American teachers. Ten years ago, when I had an opening for elementary teacher at Cedar Bluffs, I would have 60 applicants to pour over. Just 5 years ago, when we had an opening for elementary teacher, I had over 30 applicants. This year we have 2 elementary openings and we have had just 6 applicants. Last year when Mrs. Kotchwar left, we had zero applicants for a music teacher. I found a website advertising private music lessons and then cross referenced that list with those that had a teaching license from the State of Nebraska and started cold calling until 36 people later, I called Mrs. Rehn. She had left the profession over 10 years ago. I convinced her to give public education another try and we are so grateful she did. She is doing an amazing job. By law, schools cannot require teachers to sign renewal contracts until March 15th and by April 15th, if they have not done so, their contracts automatically roll over for another year. In past years, it was not a huge deal to allow teachers out of their contracts to explore other positions, but more and more schools are not allowing that to happen anymore for fear they will not be able to replace them. This year we are losing 6 teachers including: Mr. Johnson, Mr. Gerrish, Mr. Amen, Mrs. Loch, Ms. Ludwig, and Mrs. Kolar who left at semester when her husband accepted a job in the Hastings area. Mr. Johnson will be the new high school principal in Stapleton Nebraska. Mr. Gerrish is going to ESU2 in Fremont where they were able to offer him almost double what we pay him as a teacher. Mr. Gerrish is not only a teacher but has his license to practice as a mental health counselor and will oversee 16 mental health interns for a grant that places them in schools in the area. Mr. Amen was offered the same position in Logan View, where his wife teaches, so they will be reunited under the same schedule. Mrs. Loch is getting married this summer to a farmer with farm ground near Grand Island. Ms. Ludwig is leaving the education field altogether to explore other opportunities. We wish all of them the very best and cannot thank them enough for everything they have done for our school and our students. Hiring these positions will be extremely difficult this year, as more and more schools are reporting unfilled positions. In the 2022-2023 school year roughly 769 positions were unfilled, up from 482 the year before. This represents 2.75% of the total teaching positions in the State of Nebraska. Filling coaching positions are even harder as five of six leaving Cedar Bluffs coached at least one activity. One of my staff or I have gone to three educational job fairs this year, where student teachers spend the day meeting representatives from schools across the State and across the Nation. In Kearney at UNK’s job fair, I was positioned next to a table from Arizona where starting salaries for teachers was $68,000. Time to be competitive Nebraska, where the Nebraska Legislation ranks 49th out of 50 States financially supporting public schools.

#Wildcat Pride!