Kentucky HB-319 aims to address teacher shortage at state level

Posted at 6:02 PM, Feb 21, 2023

Schools are struggling to fill open teaching positions, leaving current teachers to pick up the slack, so a Kentucky lawmaker proposed a bill that aims to address the shortage.

Pendleton County School District Superintendent, Joe Buerkley said he got into the education field to work with kids.

"Most people that know me will tell you that when I'm around kids that's when I'm the happiest," he said.

Now, as a superintendent, he works to address issues in his district, like the teacher shortage.

"My staff had to adjust their schedules before school started because we knew at that time that we were not going to be able to fill those positions," Buerkley said.

House Bill 319 proposes several strategies to address the issue.

It would require schools to perform an exit survey after a teacher resigns and report it to the state. It would also create a marketing program to encourage respect and to encourage students to become teachers.

To help with hiring, the bill would create a statewide job posting portal for teaching positions.

It also makes changes to Kentucky's teacher scholarship program, including opening it up to permanent state residents enrolled in an eligible program of study.

Plus, the bill would expand the GoTeachKY Ambassador program to each school district in the state. The state would also have to review the alternative pathway teacher certification options and processes to find areas of improvement.

If the bill is passed, Kentucky would join other states in the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact. This allows teachers in a different state with a teaching license to more easily get a similar license when they move to Kentucky.

"This is not going to solve the problem, but I think it is first steps that we can take," Republican Rep. James Tipton of Taylorsville said.

One thing the bill doesn't address is teacher pay.

"We have to get competitive with other bachelors degrees coming out. We're $10-15,000 short on beginning salaries for professionals coming out of postsecondary," said Dr. Randy Poe, the executive director of the NKY Education Council.

The bill also doesn't allocate money for some of the provisions in the bill, instead directing implementation of the provisions as funds are available.

Tipton said said this year isn't a budget year for the legislature.

"I am very hopeful that we're going to set the groundwork this year and come back in 2024 during our budget session and then would be the time to have a serious conversation about some of the budget requests we're hearing," he said.

The bill passed out of committee Tuesday morning. Now, it heads to the House floor for a vote.