Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – We’re under a month away from the start of a new school year. Some districts are struggling to fill teaching and other staff positions.

From large districts like Neenah with close to 7-thousand students; “as of today we have 16 teaching openings for the upcoming year.” To smaller schools like Horicon where enrollment is only about 8-hundred — School districts across the region and state are struggling to fill open teaching positions.

“I’m the President of the Wisconsin State Music Association and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to provide middle school and high school choir.”

Districts are simply not seeing qualified candidates applying for jobs.

“As an elementary school principal, back in the 90’s, I would have a hundred to 150 applicants for a kindergarten to second grade position. And I’m currently sitting at five for both and most of those applied for both positions.”

While COVID and fewer college students studying to become teachers, for various reasons, is leading to less applicants for regular classroom teaching jobs. They are basically non-existent for specialized classes like music, tech ed and home ec.

“We’ve done a lot of creative things. We’ve just pulled a teacher out of retirement in one of those areas that’s going to work this year. We’ve looked at people that don’t have teaching degrees who come in and we put them to work and get them up to speed on learning how to teach and getting them through a degree program.”

But creativity only goes so far — and if positions aren’t filled, the fallout will affect not only students, but teachers and school staff too.

“What we end up doing is we end up having other teachers cover. We end up combining classrooms, so kids suffer in some ways because they’re in a big class or we end up putting them in a study hall or something at the secondary levels, or we just really stretch our current staff really thin.”

While the situation is frustrating to district administrators, they’re determined to work through it the best they can because it’s the future they must focus on.