/ Modified feb 4, 2016 3:48 p.m.

Tucson Area School Districts Struggle to Find Teachers

Districts fall short in recruiting because of low classroom salaries.

Generic Classroom Education Desks Spotlight
Fernanda Echavarri, AZPM

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At least one Tucson-area school district started teacher and staff recruitment efforts earlier this year than ever before.

About 65 qualified applications attended Tucson Unified School District’s teacher job fair in January, said Janet Rico Uhrig, director of talent acquisition, recruitment and retention at TUSD.

“We look for individuals who are student centered and have students at the heart of the work that they do,” Rico Uhrig said.

The Sunnyside and Vail school districts will host job fairs Saturday, Feb. 6. The districts are looking for teachers and support staff such as bus drivers, maintenance workers and administrative assistants.

Vail Superintendent Calvin Baker said in 35 years hiring teachers, this year has been one of the most difficult.

“This year there were many times when we had openings and no qualified applicants at all,” Baker said.

An example is a Cienega High School social studies position that went unfilled for a semester, Baker said.

Next year, the district expects up to 400 new students and will open a new elementary school.

“Fundamentally it is an economic issue,” Baker said. “Our teachers can go across almost any state line and receive a significant salary increase.”

The median salary for Tucson teachers is about $38,000, according to an October 2015 study from Tucson Values Teachers. Educators in Phoenix made about $9,000 more and nationally the median wage is $56,000.

Teacher job fairs

Saturday, Feb. 6

Saturday, Feb. 20

Saturday, March 12

  • Tucson Unified School District, Tucson High Magnet School,400 N 2nd Ave, Tucson 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
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