© 2024 Maine Public
1450 Lisbon St.
Lewiston, ME 04240

Maine Public Membership Department
63 Texas Ave.
Bangor, ME 04401

Portland Office
323 Marginal Way
Portland, ME 04101

Registered 501(c)(3) EIN: 22-3171529
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Scroll down to see all available streams.

Maine's teacher shortage is improving, but dozens of positions are still unfilled

Social studies teacher Logan Landry looks over the shoulder of seventh grader Simone Moore as she works on a project while seated next to a cutout of Elvis Presley at the Bruce M. Whittier Middle School, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, in Poland, Maine.
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
Social studies teacher Logan Landry looks over the shoulder of seventh grader Simone Moore as she works on a project while seated next to a cutout of Elvis Presley at the Bruce M. Whittier Middle School, Friday, Jan. 29, 2021, in Poland, Maine.

Some Maine school districts say they still have dozens of open teaching positions as the school year approaches, but that shortages have substantially eased since the pandemic.

Lewiston Superintendent Jake Langlais said that while the staffing situation is better than past years, the district still has more than 30 open teaching positions, and nearly 60 ed tech vacancies.

Langlais said he has more substitutes this year to help fill in — but once those subs are used up, "we start looking at just coverage plans and having to borrow teachers or ed techs in certain places to cover others," he said. "It becomes much more challenging once that sub pool is used up."

Langlais said the biggest areas of need are in special education and services for multilingual students.

The situation is much improved in other districts, such as the Bangor School Department and Regional School Unit 9 in Farmington.

RSU 9 Superintendent Christian Elkington said that three years ago, the district had about 90 open positions, representing almost 20% of its total staff. But Elkington said that's now down to less than 15 openings.

He attributed the improvement to more people wanting to move to the area, and to increased pay.

"There were some contracts that were negotiated, that made us more competitive with districts around us than we had been before," Elkington said.

In recent years, the state has taken several steps to try to alleviate the issue, including the creation of programs with colleges to quickly train new staff members and get them into classrooms.

The Legislature recently passed a measure to make it easier for retired educators to return to teaching.

Several colleges have also partnered with local school districts to bring in education students to fill in vacancies, and to work as ed techs and substitute teachers.