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HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Low Pay In Some School Districts Being Blamed For Teacher Shortage In Colorado

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Low pay is being blamed for a teacher shortage in parts of rural Colorado.

As Colorado Public Radio reports, teachers’ salaries in rural Colorado can be over $20,000 lower than those in urban areas.

The 2015-16 average statewide teacher salary in Colorado was $51,204 but some eastern Colorado school districts pay less than half of that, while others pay significantly more - and that is part of the issue – those teachers making less money can drive a few miles away to get better pay.

Kim Hunter Reed, executive director of the Colorado Department of High Education, said a proposal for a statewide base salary was a popular idea to solve the problem, but there’s no state money for that.

Exacerbating the problem, the number of graduates from Colorado’s teacher prep programs are down by 24 percent and in the next five years, more than 30 percent of the state’s teachers will reach retirement age.

To address the issue, some districts are hiring retirees. At the same time, the Boettcher Teacher Residency is helping career-changers in rural areas make the switch to teaching.