Lansing area school districts scramble to fill teacher vacancies

LANSING — Less than two weeks away from the start of another school year, the Lansing School District is still trying to fill 70 teaching positions, more than the urban school system needed to fill around this time last year.

Andrew Utter, a recruiter for the district, is not perturbed. He said $2,000 signing bonuses and other efforts are being made to draw and retain the best teachers for the district that enrolled about 10,000 students last year.

Recruiting and hiring is a year-round process, and Lansing’s predicament is one being experienced by other school districts, he emphasized.

“I think, like any other district in the state, we definitely have a lot of teacher openings right now,” Utter said. “There are definitely some areas that are shortage areas … special education, science and math.”

Last year in August, Lansing had 45 teaching vacancies to fill. Other Greater Lansing districts also had vacancies last year, including 12 for Okemos Public Schools, nine for Waverly Community Schools and at least six for Holt Public Schools.

This year, Charlotte Public Schools has 10 openings while public schools in East Lansing, Eaton Rapids, Mason, Williamston and Leslie are reporting a handful of open jobs. They added that because of scheduled interviews the openings could disappear by the time the school year starts.

East Lansing Superintendent Dori Leyko said on Friday the district had openings for a “high school social worker, high school English teacher, English learner teacher, speech and language pathologist, (and) teacher for students with emotional impairments.”

“Well, things change quickly,” she said in a Wednesday email, adding a smiley face emoji to her comment. She was down to four vacancies, but hoped to make an offer for one position and do more interviews for another by the end of the day.

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“Our board is holding a special meeting to take action on staff recommendations Friday morning so our newest people are ready to go next week — as staff starts Monday and kids start Wednesday,” Leyko said.

For Charlotte, Superintendent Mandy Stewart didn’t expect the district’s 10 teacher openings to last long.

“CPS has 10 openings now, but offers have been extended for several and we are still interviewing,” she said in a Wednesday email.

Utter did not immediately know how many Lansing School District hires have been made for the new school year.

“(But) I know the passion and enthusiasm that they’re bringing to the district from the Lansing area, the Michigan area,” he said. “We’re bringing in teachers from around the world.”

The Lansing School District starts classes Aug. 28. Changes include a new standalone career and technical education high school and J.W. Sexton High School playing with a new J-Dubbs mascot.

Here’s a sampling of how many teachers some local districts say they want to hire for the new school year:

  • Lansing: 70
  • Charlotte: 10
  • Waverly: 9
  • East Lansing: 4
  • Eaton Rapids: 3
  • Leslie: 2
  • Mason: 1
  • Williamston: 1

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