School districts in the state of Utah are trying to deal with teacher shortages by implementing incentives such as higher salaries and added benefits. Pay increases range from $2200 to nearly $4000 annually, with some districts offering bonuses to veteran teachers who remain in the district. Other incentives include payment for professional development or exemplary work. Granite District, in Salt Lake City, is also offering health care services: free urgent care and regular care along with prescriptions with no co-pays.
In a state that adds 10,000 new students a year, the problem of teacher shortage is two-fold: (1) bringing in enough new teachers and (2) holding on to the ones already in classrooms. Enrollment in teacher education programs at the state’s universities has dropped considerably in the past few years, up to 60% at the University of Utah.
To compensate for the decreasing numbers coming out of state schools, many districts hire teachers who enter teaching via an alternate route. A study from Envision Utah’s Jason Brown found that in 2017 nearly half of the new teachers in the state did not come from traditional teacher preparation programs.
Compounding the problem, nearly half the teachers in the state leave during their first five years, and teachers who enter the profession through alternative certification routes leave at nearly twice the rate of those who come from teacher education programs.
As universities try to address the challenge of falling numbers, districts do what they can to retain teachers through their incentives.