Frederick: Teaching positions could become harder to fill
– By Katie Zerr
The Mobridge-Pollock School Board discussed problems the district, as well as others in the state, are having in filling teacher positions.
Mobridge-Pollock Superintendent Tim Frederick told the board the district is lucky to have filled the positions they have at the elementary level. He said districts in the eastern corner of the state are having difficulty, not only with finding science and math teachers, but also at the elementary level. He said although Mobridge-Pollock has not filled a math position, others are having problems in all areas.
He also said the lack of a special education teacher in the middle school (Winter Linn will not be available to teach that position until after her graduation in December) will put the burden of covering those classes on other teachers in the district. He said salary costs would be higher in the first semester in reflection of that extra work.
He said the teachers are willing to pick up the load and are being compensated, but he also said time constraints could become a problem with all of the paperwork. That is why there are extra paraprofessionals on the staff.
“We are fortunate to have the staff that we have in the district,” he said. “When you have the superintendent of Harrisburg tell a group of more than 100 superintendents that they and the Sioux Falls district are having problems filling elementary positions, I think we need to realize this is just starting.”
Frederick said in a later interview that the shortage of teachers could have a number of reasons including the fact that teacher’s salaries are low in South Dakota.
“There are other options that our young people are weighing,” he said. “They look at the influence they are having and the things they are asked to deal with, they look at other things. When they can make more money at McDonald’s and not have to deal with what they do in education, it is a viable option.”
Telling the board he presented information to area superintendents concerning laws that regulate bussing in another district, Frederick said the district is being cautious of the law.
At this point, Mobridge-Pollock does not go into other districts to bring students to school here. But three other districts, Smee, Herreid and Selby, send busses into the district to pick students up for school each day.
The Herreid district makes stops on South Dakota Highways 10 and 1804. The Selby bus has one stop in Mobridge and last year, the Smee District made six stops in town.
This year the Smee District will cut that back to three stops.
There has been some interest in having Mobridge-Pollock buses make pick-ups in other districts, but Frederick said that has not happened.
He did, however, say that the district may have to make a decision on how to keep some of these students from traveling out of the district to other schools.
“We may have to being doing something here at Mobridge-Pollock District such as provide in-town pickups,” he said on Tuesday.
With the implementation of some of South Dakota’s accountability system called the School Performance Index, or SPI, the first reports were recently released.
Frederick said indicating data in the elementary and high schools were positive, showing improvements in the accountability. That was not true in the middle school.
Scores in both reading and math improved in both the upper elementary and high schools, with the elementary school surpassing the attendance goal by more than 1 percent and average score for numbers operations by more than 11 percent.
The third goal of 60 percent in all grade levels on the reading for information text indicator fell short by more than 8 percent.
In the high school indicators showed an increase in the graduation rate of 3 percent to 95 percent for non-gap students, but a drop 19 percent in gap (students in one or more of the following categories: Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native/Hispanic/Latino, economically disadvantaged, students with disabilities, and students who are limited English proficient) students.
The math proficient indicators showed increases in nearly all indicators.
Areas of concern were the graduation rates for three of the four group indicators and math of gap students, in the economically disadvantaged and students with disabilities categories.
IN the middle school, the student achievement category showed a drop in reading achievement for all students of nearly seven indicator points from the 2012 tests.
In math the possible points scored were 23.40, down from 28.18 out of a possible 40 points.
The total achievement indicator shows a drop from 58.36 in 2011-2012 to 47.30 in 2012-2013.
South Dakota’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver was approved by the U.S. Department of Education in June 2012. The waiver provides states with flexibility from certain provisions of No Child Left Behind. This allowed South Dakota to move forward in developing a new accountability system designed to provide a broader picture of school performance. The SPI based on a 100-point index, consists of key indicators to measure a school’s performance. A numeric value is assigned to each of the indicators. These values are added to create a total SPI score out of 100 points.
Two distinct indexes are used: 1) one for elementary/middle school accountability, and 2) one for high school accountability. Portions of the indexes will be phased in over the next several years, with full implementation in the 2014-15 school year.
“Mr. Lenz and the middle school team will be analyzing this data during the in-service retreat,” said Frederick. “They will get busy and find solutions to these problems.”
(A more in-depth story on these indicators and the scores can be seen in the Aug. 21 edition of the Tribune.)