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Teachers wanted

Teri Vance

With less than two weeks until school starts, Carson City School District is still looking to fill nine positions – and that’s good compared to some other districts in the state.

“We are hopeful that we have a pretty good pool of applicants to draw from,” said Richard Stokes, Carson City’s associate superintendent of human resources. “I’m fairly confident we’re going to be able to fill these positions. It’s just a matter of going through the process.”

Stokes told school board members Tuesday seven teaching and two classified employee positions are still open after 59 others were filled.

Clark County has filled more than 1,400 positions but still needs about 100 more. Washoe County is looking for about 24 new employees.

“We’re struggling a little bit but particularly in special education,” said Steve Mulvenon, Washoe County School District’s director of communications.

But there is a glimmer of hope. The 2001 Legislature passed a bill allowing retired employees to come back to work to receive a salary in addition to collecting retirement if a “critical shortage” could be determined.

Stokes said Carson City has no plans for declaring a critical shortage, but Washoe County has declared a shortage for all positions in Gerlach, as well as elementary music teachers and high school principals.

“For a small community like Gerlach, it’s hard to attract people there to teach,” said Laura Dancer, associate superintendent for human resources in Washoe County. “If we can look to people who are retired and already live there, it’s ideal.”

Dancer said the district also will apply for critical shortage standing for special-education teachers.

Clark County also plans to declare a critical shortage for special-education teachers, as well as for bilingual teachers, psychologists and speech pathologists.

Douglas County has applied for critical shortage standing to help fill its remaining nine positions.

“We’ve hired some long-term substitutes,” said Sarah Fogarty, the administrative secretary for human resources in Douglas County School District. “We’re still interviewing and we’re still thinking positively.”

Carson High School Principal Glen Adair is also trying to think positively in these final days before school starts when he is still four teachers short.

“In the 10 years since I’ve been here, this is the first year we even have the potential of starting school without the full complement of teachers,” he said. “Is it going to be OK? Probably. Is it going to be easy? No.”

However, he stressed that the shortage will not mean the district will relax its standards.

“In a school like ours and a district like ours, we’re not just taking anybody,” Adair said. “We need good, strong teachers.”

But it’s hard, he said, when places like Los Angeles offer a starting salary of $37,006 compared with Carson City’s beginning salary of $26,847.

“We live in a wonderful area near Lake Tahoe. We have a wonderful district and wonderful kids,” he said. “This is a concoction for success yet we compete with everyone else in the country.”

Storey County School District has hired all its necessary teachers, and Lyon County School District has listed 14 openings on its Web site.

Keith Rheault, deputy superintendent for the State Board of Education, said final requests for critical shortage positions will be considered at the board’s next meeting on Aug. 24 and 25 in Fallon.