EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

UEA President: There doesn’t appear to be a severe teacher shortage

Aug 18, 2023, 7:00 PM | Updated: Aug 19, 2023, 10:25 am

One of the topics being discussed during the 2023 Utah Legislative Session is how to combat the tea...

UEA President Renee Pinkney says there doesn't appear to be any severe teacher shortages around the state. File photo

SALT LAKE CITY — Early into the 2023-24 school year, Utah Education Association President Renée Pinkney says there doesn’t appear to be any significant teacher shortage around the state.

“You know I have traveled to St. George, to Blanding, to Emery County, to Uintah County,” she said. “I’ve just been all around, Alpine, and I haven’t heard anyone talking about severe teacher shortages.”

Instead, Pinkney has heard a different message in her travels around the state.

“What I’ve heard is there are fewer new teachers being hired,” she said. “Which means that maybe there is some stabilization as far as teachers retiring early. Or, choosing to leave the profession in the same numbers. But I don’t know if that means if there are still unfilled positions.”

Substitute teacher shortage?

Pinkney says the shortage of substitute teachers around the state shouldn’t be as much of a problem as it’s been in the past. 

“I’m not sure if the substitute shortage will be as much of a challenge as it has been over the last few years,” she said.

Pinkney points out the shortage for teachers and substitute teachers began years ago, and the pandemic only made things worse.

She says other educational personnel such as aides and cafeteria workers have seen an increase in salary.

“I know that districts have been very focused on increasing their education support professionals’ wages or increases,” she said. “They are very cognizant of the fact that it takes us all. And that we all need to have and make a living wage.”

She says the state legislature’s approved $4,200 annual pay raise has helped keep more teachers in place.

Mark Jones contributed to this article.

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UEA President: There doesn’t appear to be a severe teacher shortage