Moorcroft Leader - The Voice of the Community Since 1909, Serving Moorcroft and Pine Haven, Wyoming

School district seeks to support teachers

 

July 7, 2022



Several MK8 school teachers have departed this season due to personal reasons and, according to Crook County School District #1 Superintendent Mark Broderson, this is to be expected. Even so, the nationwide teacher shortage epidemic is certainly making itself felt here in the county.

With new teachers particularly, “It’s important they find their first job after they graduate college and many of those teachers will not stay in that place for the rest of their career. Not every teacher we hire will remain in Crook County.” He noted that in his more than 30 years in the field of education, superintendent for Crook County is his fourth district position, but, “This is not typical of every teacher today.”

However, around the nation, fewer people are staying within the education field in the standard classroom setting for reasons including wage and delineation of responsibility.

“Across the nation teachers are leaving the profession,” Broderson said. “This is a national epidemic. Everyone’s having teacher shortages; everyone’s having a hard time finding them. Teachers are leaving because of the stress that goes with it. Being a good teacher is a demanding job.”

The superintendent admitted the county faces the same issues, and funding is a big part of it. With wages at the low mid-point for the state, he explained the district’s efforts to raise the base pay for teachers.

“We’re within $4000 of 23 of 48 districts in the state. We’re trying to get closer, we raised the base $1000 this year plus raises.” Unlike teachers, though, “For classified staff [cooks, bus drivers, custodians, etc.], we’re closer to the top [pay] in the state of Wyoming.”

Teachers’ benefit packages in Crook County also aid in the overall financial welfare of the county’s educators.

“The board covers 80% of the health insurance, which is significantly higher than a lot of districts,” Broderson explains, “So even though our baseline might not be the same as other districts…the take-home is often better.”

“The teachers who want to pursue more education and make more money are encouraged to do so with the tuition reimbursement program we offer,” the superintendent added.

“They have three years to acquire the classes they need to take to become certified,” he says.

Another trial the district faces in their endeavors to better help teachers afford to stay is the political efforts to strip funding from education.

“Every spring, Congress has a debate on funding plus a lack of trust between the legislature and the professionals we have wears on everybody,” he says.

“When you talk about compensation, there’s always a wish for more, but you can only address it with what you have. The pie can only be cut so many ways.”

“We do what we can,” Broderson sums up the situation, “We have a responsibility to the children of this county. To educate them and give them a safe place to go on learning and enjoy their day.

“That’s our number one goal and we try to compensate our staff and maintain as good as we can for them within reason, but at the end of the day, it still comes down to trying to do what’s best for the children and trying to educate them as best as we can.”

 
 

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