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$1M grant doubles teacher vacancies for school district

A grant awarded to the Nye County School District should have been a blessing, but the extra influx of funds actually made the district’s teacher shortage situation worse.

The Department of Education awarded NCSD a $1 million grant which will allow them to hire 16 new teachers, Sheena Barnes told the board of trustees on Aug. 23.

Although any time grants are awarded is good news, but tacking on new positions on top of their already-lacking staff put the district in an even larger bind.

NCSD superintendent Dale Norton explained that the district was already 15 teachers down, as they have already seen teacher resignations early on in the 2016-17 school year.

With the addition of the new positions, the teacher shortage was made doubly worse overnight.

“The bad news is our vacancies over-doubled,” Barnes said. “We had 15 and now we add 16 to that.”

The funding came after a class size reduction report showed that NCSD had class sizes that were above where they were expected to be.

“We were over the ratios, so the Department of Education wanted to know how many teachers we would need to meet those class size ratios,” Barnes said. “So we told them and they awarded us a subgrant of $1 million and gave us the 16 new positions. “

Barnes explained that the positions are valid for the 2016-17 school year and are for new teachers only.

It breaks down as two first-grade teachers, four second-grade teachers, three third-grade teachers, three fourth-grade teachers, and four fifth-grade teachers. The newly-added positions are located at Pahrump elementary schools, Tonopah and Round Mountain.

Although the grant was awarded to the district on July 1, Norton said that the school district wasn’t notified of the grant until Aug. 16.

To help get a grasp on the shortage, the district is looking into options it can use in order to bulk up its staff this year.

“We have reached out to the Department of Education to find out if we can use long-term subs to fill these positions,” Barnes said.

If long-term subs aren’t an option, Barnes explained that the chance of filling the vacancies isn’t looking good.

“So if we’re not allowed to use long-term subs, these classes will not be formed until we can recruit certified teachers.”

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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