SOUTH BEND — With fewer than two weeks until classes start, South Bend schools has as many as 100 unfilled teaching positions, hinting at the ongoing shortage of teachers throughout the state.
The 100 openings for certified teachers, posted on the district's website, would represent 9 percent of its total number of teachers in the 2015-2016 school year, the latest year for which data is available through the Indiana Department of Education. Each year, South Bend employs between 1,000 and 1,500 teachers, according to historical data.
It's unclear whether more positions remain unfilled through the first week of August this year compared with the same time last year. But Jason Zook, president of South Bend's teachers union, said the job openings reflect a statewide and national struggle for some districts to attract and keep teachers.
"I wouldn't say South Bend is unique," he said, "but across the state they're hurting to fill positions."
In a 2016 national study, the California-based Learning Policy Institute estimated that 60,000 teaching jobs went unfilled for the 2015-2016 school year, and that number was expected to reach 112,000 open jobs by 2018. The same study labeled Indiana as among the five worst states for recruiting and keeping teachers. The study included pay and working conditions as factors in its rankings.
Zook said an increasing number of retirements have opened more positions, while stagnant pay, reduced school funding and what he described as an anti-teacher political climate have kept some people away from the profession.