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State officials say teacher shortage is a crisis

Posted at 11:29 PM, Jul 31, 2017

DENVER -- It's no secret that teachers don’t make enough money. The starting salary for a teacher in Colorado can be as low as $25,000. Monday, officials with the Colorado State Department of Education and the Department of Higher Education hosted one of several planned town hall meetings to gather input from the community regarding the teacher shortage.

Brenda Morris teaches in the Keenesburg School District, RE3J public schools.

"So, I’ve seen a huge decline in funding as far as what we get from the state, and that obviously affects our salaries," said Morris, referring to tax laws like Tabor, Amendment 23 and the Gallagher Amendment.

With a 3,000-teacher shortage and a third of teachers expected to retire in the next five years, funding and salaries could be why state education officials say Colorado is in crisis

In addition to those staggering numbers, new teachers aren't exactly lining up for open positions.
Colleen O'Neil with the Colorado Department of Education spoke to Denver 7.

"Five years ago, we used to have a couple hundred teachers apply for a position, like an elementary school position. Now we are down to the 30s or 40s,” said O’Neil.

New legislation requires officials to meet with teachers and the community to hear why.

"Hiring, retention, promotion, support; how they've been impacted by salary compensation," said Sheryl Cunningham, a retired teacher.

Many say there’s not enough respect for the profession either.

While teachers are obviously the ones that feel the funding dry up, so do the students, and that deserves everyone's attention.

"We are teaching the future. If we are not taking care of the students then we are not taking care of our future doctors, future lawyers, future food service people," said Morris.

Future meetings will take place at the following locations:  

Tuesday, Aug. 1 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. at Mile High United Way CoBank Leadership Center, 711 Park Ave. West, Denver, CO 80205

Wednesday, Aug. 2 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Colorado Mountain College - Leadville Campus, 901 U.S. 24, Leadville, CO 80461

Monday, Aug. 7 from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at University of Colorado Colorado Springs, Centennial Hall Auditorium, Colorado Springs, CO 80918

Thursday, Aug. 10 from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at Otis High School, 518 Dungan St., Otis, CO 80743

Aug. 14 or 15 at Ignacio High School, 315 Ignacio Street, Ignacio, CO 81137 (date TBD)

Friday, Aug. 18 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at East Central BOCES Office, 820 Second St., Limon, CO 80828

Monday, Aug. 21 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at Las Animas High School, 300 Grove Ave., Las Animas, CO 81054