FARMINGTON With the start of school just around the corner, Davis School District officials are still trying to fill open teaching slots.
Already, the district has hired more than 300 new teachers for the upcoming school year. They still need 14 more.
"We are certainly anxious, and it's very much our goal to have the positions filled," said Becky Williams, Davis School District human resources director.
The growing district opened a new elementary school last year and this year opens another. Next year, district officials expect to open a new junior high and elementary school.
It's not unusual to be hiring teachers right up to the first day of school, Williams said.
"It's not something we want to happen," she said. "Unfortunately, with the teacher shortage and our growth, it is something that does happen."
Other nearby districts are struggling too. Ogden has hired 92 new teachers and still has 10 openings. Weber hired 170 and needs nine more.
School officials say one of the difficulties in finding teachers is that fewer people are entering the profession. The number of teaching graduates from Utah universities dropped by 13 percent between 2003 and 2006.
Last year, 17 of the 40 Utah school districts started the school year without enough teachers. "This isn't abnormal, to be two weeks out and still have a few spots open," said Nate Taggart, Weber School District spokesman. "It's a little bit higher than we have had in the last couple of years."
If positions aren't filled by the start of school, classes won't be canceled in the Davis School District. Williams said a substitute will be used or another teacher will be asked to fill in until a permanent teacher is found. "We don't want to have to start with a substitute, but just because school is starting doesn't mean we are just going to put a live body in there," she said. "They still need to be qualified. We are still looking for people that will really give a quality education to our students. We are in a constant recruitment mode."