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Low turnout at teacher job fair

Posted at 9:58 AM, Feb 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-08 07:18:46-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - School districts around Pima County are struggling to find permanent, full-time teachers. Vail Unified School District held a teacher job fair Saturday at Desert Sky Middle School to remeedy that, but turnout was lower than hoped for.

Superintendent Calvin Baker was at the job fair himself over the weekend. He says they have about 100 teacher openings for all grade levels and subjects in his school district and about 150 teacher applicants were at the job fair.

"We were hoping for more like 250 at an event like this," said Baker.

He says they still had more applicants than originally expected.

Low numbers of teacher applicants seems to be a trend around Tucson. Tucson and Sunnyside school districts also reported low numbers of applicants in their recent job fairs.

At Saturday's job fair, we asked some applicants why they think that is. 

"Look at the state of education, it's not necessarily as appealing as it was a few decades ago," said Sharon Jelle, a teacher applying for a job with Vail.

She also mentioned low teacher pay could be driving teachers away. Baker echoed the same concern.

"I just wish we could pay people more," said Baker.

Others say teaching is more than just about the money.

"You can also say that it's a rewarding job and that working with 30 kids a day gives you so much more," said Stephanie Rojas, a teacher applicant.

To attract teachers, school districts like Vail are even looking at uncertified teachers.

"We'd rather find someone who is really good and help them become certified than hire someone who might be already certified but doesn't meet our standards," said Baker.

Meanwhile, Vail's school district is already bursting at the seems. They are set to open a new elementary school next year with 500 students, Copper Ride Elementary.

Baker says across the district, parents will have a stake in who they hire come registration.

"Their number one concern is who their teacher is going to be," said Baker.