School districts try to hire for next school year amid looming teacher walkout

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As Arizona teachers plan to walk out of their classrooms later this week, AJSD superintendent Dr. Krista Anderson hopes some walk in for a job interview. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) As Arizona teachers plan to walk out of their classrooms later this week, AJSD superintendent Dr. Krista Anderson hopes some walk in for a job interview. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
There are still some hopeful applicants, like Pam Simons, who think this is an exciting time to work in education. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) There are still some hopeful applicants, like Pam Simons, who think this is an exciting time to work in education. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Starting salary at Apache Junction Unified School District is about $34,000. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Starting salary at Apache Junction Unified School District is about $34,000. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
AJSD is still deciding whether or not it will close during the teacher walk out. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) AJSD is still deciding whether or not it will close during the teacher walk out. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
APACHE JUNCTION, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

As teachers get ready to strike, demanding raises and more money for education, school districts are struggling to fill open jobs.

There are hundreds of vacant teaching positions around the state, 30 at the Apache Junction Unified School District. The district held a job fair Monday evening to try and fill those spots. 

As Arizona teachers plan to walk out of their classrooms later this week, AJSD superintendent Dr. Krista Anderson hopes some walk in for a job interview.

"It is becoming increasingly more difficult to find teachers, and it's not because people don't have the heart or don't have the passion for it," said Dr. Anderson. 

[SPECIAL SECTION: Arizona schools in crisis]

Jackie Estrada wants to fill one of those open positions but knows she’s chosen a very chaotic time to start a career in education.

"It's just so confusing and complicated," said Estrada.

[RELATED: Arizona school districts release plans for teacher walk out]

Other applicants are trying to stay optimistic. There are still some hopeful applicants, like Pam Simons, who think this is an exciting time to work in education.

"It's kind of on the cusp of big change," said Simons. "I feel like I'm kind of riding the wave right now of something really exciting for the future."

Starting salary at Apache Junction Unified School District is about $34,000. Anderson says without the state giving her district any more money to pay teachers, she's had to find other ways to attract new hires.

 "One of the things that we've done recently is adopted hard to fill stipends, so that for some of those positions such as math, science, special ed, that we're giving additional monies to those positions because we know they're more difficult to fill," said Anderson. 

[RELATED: 'Stay on the job!' AZ school superintendent urges teachers not to strike]

Despite the current state of education, many applicants have chosen to continue teaching anyway. 

"I've been in the business about 22 years. There usually is a teacher shortage and it's one of those things where you need to be in the business for the right reasons. And that's for the children," said Creighton Bourland, who applied for a history teacher position.

[POLL: Would you support a tax increase to fund teacher salaries?]

AJSD is still deciding whether or not it will close during the teacher walk out. It plans to make the announcement Tuesday morning. 

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Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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