New Mexico faces shortage of teachers

Shelby Perea
Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico News

ALBUQUERQUE – It's a trend states and districts are feeling nationwide: teacher shortages.

And local districts – including the state's largest – are on the hunt to fill positions for the coming 2018-2019 school year. Each district the Journal recently reached out to was trying to fill numerous slots.

U.S. Department of Education data for the just completed 2017-2018 school year showed that teacher shortages were affecting every state in the country.

Now, with schools looking ahead to the coming school year, Albuquerque Public Schools has the highest overall need in the state, with 380 teacher and 90 educational assistant job openings for a student body of about 84,000.

These vacancies mirror what the district has seen during the summer in previous years, according to APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta. She couldn't say how many teachers from the previous school year didn't renew their contracts.

Statewide, Department of Education data showed the biggest gaps to fill were for bilingual, math and science teachers, especially for grades seven to 12.

Armenta said APS has seen a shortage of teachers in those subjects, too, and currently APS is looking for 200 special education teachers and 180 elementary, middle and high school teachers.

Last year for the first time, Armenta said, APS also experienced a need for nurses and counselors, citing competitive science careers in New Mexico and a growing need for mental health services at schools.

Earlier this month, APS sent a $1.35 billion budget to the state Public Education Department that included a minimum 2.5 percent pay increase for teachers, counselors, school nurses and librarians.