SALT LAKE CITY, Utah(News4Utah) All day on News4Utah, we’re discussing Utah’s state of education. Today, on GMU, we talked about rural schools and some of the key issues they face. Rober Donohoe, the Vice President of the UEA, and Rodney Hurd, a teacher in the Sevier School District, joined Emily Clark, to talk about the 3 basic issues.
- Funding. Because of the smaller populations and large sections of federal land, rural schools have a smaller tax base and less money to work with. General funds that could be spent on more personnel, wages, and new services are often taken just to maintain current programs.
- Teacher Recruiting and Retaining. Even with state wide teacher shortages, most rural schools have been fortunate to find new teachers that are qualified or willing to qualify to work in the classroom. However, the number of applicants for all positions and particularly for key positions in math, science, and English are often limited because larger districts can pay higher wages. Keeping those new teachers in a rural area becomes very difficult when the teachers discover that there are few opportunities for spouses to work and summer or extra employment is limited. As in most of Utah, 56% of teachers quit in the first five years and in rural areas it is often because they cannot afford to financially support their families.
- Student Opportunities. Rural districts go to great lengths to provide students with as many educational opportunities as possible. Unfortunately, schools are limited in the number of personnel that can provide the instruction. Many rural middle and high school teachers are required to teach five or six different subject as well as perform coaching and other duties. In rural areas, a teacher may spend thirty years building a program only to see that program disappear when the teacher retires. EdNet, Concurrent Enrollment, and Career and Technology Education (CTE) programs are in place to provide extended opportunities, but finding instructors for those programs is becoming difficult.
For more information on educational issues in rural education, visit MyUEA.org.