Four Corners area suffering through teacher shortage

Posted at: 05/05/2014 9:06 PM
By: Devin Neeley, KOB Eyewitness News 4

It is becoming tougher and tougher to hire new teachers.

And the reason is simple.

"I think we are going to see a continual decline of folks going into education," said Kirk Carpenter, Superintendent of Aztec Municipal Schools.

Carpenter says that every year there are fewer teacher applicants.

"Specifically in core areas, like math and science," he said.

Salary is one problem. New Mexico teacher salaries are $10,000 to $20,000 less than the national average.

"Teaching is a calling and it absolutely is. It takes special people to get into the profession but we have to be able to offer those incentives that many of the other professions are pulling people away from are offering," Carpenter said.

He says aggressive recruiting is key.

Just down the road, Farmington Municipal Schools are now recruiting in states where teachers are being laid off.

"We sent a couple of teams there and we found that we had 15 applications from Michigan and about 15 from Minnesota. We have actually hired a couple of people from those places," said Chris Pash, Human Resources Director of Farmington Municipal Schools.

Both districts also use our state's natural resources as incentive for teachers to move here.

Carpenter says his district may not have the highest starting salary, "But what we can sell you is the fact that we have four seasons, we can sell you that if you like to ski, you can drive 40 minutes and go skiing."

"I think that's what sold some of the people we have already hired here," Pash said.

Both districts are actively recruiting for next school year.