Grant money awarded to help LEAs deal with teacher shortage

Grant money awarded to help LEAs deal with teacher shortage

(Calif.) The first of some $9 million in state grants aimed at reducing California’s stubborn teacher shortage has been awarded to 26 local educational agencies—including almost $1 million to the Alameda County Office of Education, where conditions have become even worse in the past year.

Despite an investment of close to $70 million by the Legislature during the past two years in teacher recruitment and retention programs, 80 percent of districts statewide said they continue to struggle to find candidates for empty positions, according to a February report from the Learning Policy Institute.

The new grant money is one-time funding that was competitively awarded to assist LEAs in attracting and retaining both new teachers as well as administrators in high-need subjects and schools.

“Some of the LEAs were looking at establishing teacher training academies, some wanted to partner with institutions of higher learning,” said Donna Glassman-Sommer, executive director of the California Center on Teaching Careers, which is helping to administrate the new grant money. “There’s one district that wants to increase the number of science teachers, and so they are working with their local university. It really depends on local needs.”

In the wake of the 2008-09 recession, LEAs were forced to lay off thousands of K-12 teachers while the number of college students enrolling into preparation programs fell by 70 percent.

Even as the economy recovered and state support for schools not only was restored but also enhanced in more recent years, the supply pipeline has remained problematic. Compounding the problems has been the steady retirement of thousands of teachers of the Baby Boomer generation.

The most acute shortages are teachers certified in math and sciences, as well as special education and increasingly too, career technical education. The passage of Proposition 55 last year, which reinstated bilingual education, has also triggered needs in that area.

The teacher shortage, which other states are also struggling with, will take some time to turn around. But Glassman-Sommer said she’s received anecdotal reports that enrollment in preparation programs is on the upswing.

“Most of the data we get is about a year behind,” she said. “But what I do hear from some of the institutions is that enrollment is up and that’s a very good thing.”

Her center, which is hosted inside the Tulare County Office of Education, was established as part of the funding lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown provided in 2016. Its mandate is to serve as the focal point for promotional and recruitment materials that would be used to attract high school and college students to the teaching profession.

Here is the list of LEAs that received the CalEd grants:

Alameda County Office of Education                                          $993,725

Butte County Office of Education                                                $495,146

Davis Joint Unified School District                                              $107,396

East Side Union High School District                                          $191,470

Elk Grove Unified School District                                               $353,754

Environmental Charter Middle School, Inglewood                    $90,528

Five Keys Independence High School                                         $184,500

Fresno Unified School District                                                     $524,315

Glenn County Office of Education                                              $358,677

Health Science High and Middle College, San Diego                $387,860

Humboldt County Office of Education                                        $607,738

Inyo County Superintendent of Schools                                      $147,022

Los Angeles Unified School District                                           $309,485

Monterey Peninsula Unified School District                               $760,979

Natomas Unified School District                                                  $369,248

Placer County Office of Education                                              $280,511

Riverside County Office of Education                                         $199,512

Sacramento County Office of Education                                     $250,000

San Bernardino City Unified School District                         $1,010,731   

San Joaquin County Office of Education                                    $180,135

San Luis Obispo County Office of Education                            $54,227    

San Mateo County Office of Education                                       $46,000

Sanger Unified School District                                                     $103,935

Ukiah Unified School District                                                      $284,202

West Contra Costa Unified School District                                 $451,288

Wonderful College Prep Academy                                               $479,670 more