Teacher Shortages Find MMSD as School Begins


One of MMSD’s job fairs hosts potential teaching candidates

Jonathan Buscher

As the school year loomed in late August of 2022, MMSD faced a teacher shortage, an issue that continued through the start of school on September first. A few months prior, the district was down over 570 teachers, but after aggressive hiring, this number dropped to around 140 open spots by mid-August. 

Before the start of the year, MMSD hoped to fill jobs across the district, including the 135 vacancies in teaching, along with roles in food service, counseling, and custodial work, of which, there are hundreds of open positions. This impacts different areas of school routine, especially within the MMSD Food Services Department, where a recent decrease in the quality of student food, according to parents, is a symptom of this shortage. 

There are several underlying problems that have contributed to the shortage this year and, according to Michael Jones, who is the president of the union Madison Teachers, Incorporated, “It’s just been a long time coming.” The Wisconsin legislature, as stated by Jones, has neglected to increase educational staff funding in the face of recent inflation. Without enough pay to support their livelihoods and families, teachers are leaving. 

COVID-19 also hit teachers hard, as they had to navigate technology while keeping students engaged during virtual learning. Also, once returning to school, teachers had the added stressors of catching kids up on what they missed during the virtual year, along with monitoring an increase in cell phone usage, on top of simply being a teacher. With a poor combination of teachers leaving the profession, the economic state, and the current low employment rates, MMSD has, and likely will have, problems finding teachers to fill positions. 

In order to try to fix this issue, MMSD offered several job fairs, including a virtual one on Monday, August 22, 2022, and an in-person event on Thursday of the same week. Additionally, Superintendent Carlton Jenkins has stated that MMSD does currently have 275 substitute teachers that he says are “highly qualified,” meaning that, although some classes may not have full-time teachers, there will be substitutes to cover teacherless classes.

This shortage of teachers didn’t improve much, despite efforts from MMSD. According to Tim LeMonds, a district spokesman, MMSD was still down 257 workers, with 130 of those being in teaching positions. This represents about 5% of the total staff required in the district, and while slight improvement has been made, MMSD still has a ways to go before they are fully staffed.