WICKENBURG, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Arizona's students are returning to class, but in many cases, their teachers are not. More and more are leaving the profession, and few are joining the ranks.

The teacher shortage is forcing school districts to be creative with their efforts to recruit.

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New this year, the Wickenburg Unified School District adopted a four-day week to recruit and retain teachers.

"I never thought we would do this, nor was it my intent to ever do this," said Wickenburg Unified School District Superintendent Howard Carlson. "We have individuals we are hiring from out of the Valley, coming to us because of the four-day week."

Carlson says this is the first time in several years that all teaching positions were filled by May and, better yet, the teachers are certified and experienced.

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"If you go from an environment where you have two years without a certified math teacher to now a teacher with experience, that can make a huge difference for kids," he said.

The four-day week wooed Annette Delaney from her teaching job in the Valley.

"They voted on it March 7, and I called the office March 8 to put in my job application," said Delaney. "I wanted a day to be able to breathe because teaching is very intense."

The shift in the calendar also solidified teacher Jon Woodgate's decision to stick with Wickenburg, despite his daily commute from the Valley.

"I mean, that has made it cost-effective for me to continue to be a teacher up there," said Woodgate. "I just don't have a desire to leave."

The new calendar may be more palatable for parents in Wickenburg where the City observes a four-day week and schools previously had half-day Fridays. The district is working with the community to provide Friday programming to help working parents with child care. But some concerns with the calendar run deeper than day care.

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"I have no doubt that they didn't come upon that lightly, but it still leaves something to be desired for working families, families of young children and families who feel like they are not getting all the educational experiences that they need here," said parent Laura Stahlhut. "I am sure they are doing what they think is best, but sometimes that is not what is best for every family."

 


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