Oct 21, 2022 - News

Minnesota schools grapple with ongoing staffing shortages

Illustration of a teacher's chalkboard with "Now Hiring" written across it.

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Massive staff shortages in some public school districts in Minnesota have delayed a return to normal for many kids.

Driving the news: Minneapolis Public Schools has 650 vacant positions, reports the Star Tribune, and parents and teachers are calling for help.

  • St. Paul Public Schools were down 300 positions heading into the school year, according to Sahan Journal.

Why it matters: Many parents hoped that schools would operate like they did pre-pandemic so their kids could get back on track. But the Star Tribune report paints a chaotic picture.

  • Minneapolis is down 135 special education staff.
  • One father of a child with autism said school nurses and principals have been filling in, and he's seen his son backslide. "That's basically just babysitting," he told the Star Tribune.

Zoom out: Anoka–Hennepin Schools was also short 280 positions, many concentrated in special education and student nutrition, per Sahan Journal.

Yes, but: Not every district is feeling the same pain. Wayzata Public Schools, a wealthy district, was short only five positions, Sahan Journal reported.

  • Osseo Public Schools, a more racially and economically diverse district, also had only a small number of vacancies.

What's happening: St. Paul is recruiting teachers with expired licenses, classroom assistants ready to try teaching, college professors and even fitness instructors.

  • Minneapolis is still adjusting staffing as it recalibrates from a decline of 1,300 students compared to last year and 8,700 compared to five years ago, according to the Star Tribune.

Between the lines: Most education support professionals in Minneapolis schools got a starting wage hike from about $20 an hour to $24 under a new contract that was negotiated to end a strike last spring.

  • Yes, but: Chris Williams, spokesperson for the teacher's union Education Minnesota, told Axios inflation has pushed private sector pay up faster than the contract rate, creating more competition as schools scramble to fill the roles.

The bottom line: Worker shortages are a struggle for most Minnesota organizations as the state's unemployment rate hits 2% and there are 4.1 job openings for every unemployed worker.


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