PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A recent survey of 200 school districts and charter schools conducted by the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association shows there are nearly 2,000 vacant teacher positions in the state several months into the school year.
According to the survey, that means around 26.6% of teaching positions in Arizona haven't been filled.
We lost over 300 teachers in the first month of the school year alone.
Still, the December 2020 survey marks a slight improvement in the percentage of teacher openings compared to ASPAA's survey taken in August. That survey got responses from 145 school districts and charter schools and showed 28.1% of teaching positions in Arizona were vacant.
The ASPAA says the pandemic is playing a significant role in the shortage, with many teachers quitting or taking a leave of absence because of COVID-19 concerns.
"I just think it's worsened the circumstance," said Justin Wing with ASPAA.
Since the school year began, the ASPAA found 501 teachers that resigned or retired, citing COVID-19 as a primary reason.
On the ballot next month, Proposition 208 presents yet another battle over the state's dire education funding and who should pay for it.
The survey also showed that around 3,482 teaching positions in Arizona have been filled using employees that don't meet standard teaching requirements. That makes up 46.5% of Arizona's teaching positions.
Arizona's teacher shortage has gotten worse during the coronavirus pandemic, which means the demand for substitutes is higher than ever.
In all, the ASPAA's survey shows that around 73.1% of Arizona's teaching positions are either vacant or filled with an employee that doesn't have the proper qualifications.
This is the sixth year that ASPAA has conducted the bi-yearly survey, every school year they've done it Arizona has had a teacher shortage.
"I anticipate we're going to have the same discussion August and December of this next school year, and the year after," Wing said.
So how does the state get more teachers into classrooms?
ASPAA says the latest 20% pay increase was a good start, but there needs to be even more money for educators. They also say there needs to be an increased focus on getting more college students to major in education, creating a stronger pipeline for future teachers.