PLATTEVILLE — School is expensive, and that's part of the reason some say fewer people are willing to sign up for a job as a teacher. The concerns about pay may be contributing to America's teacher shortage and that's why UW-Platteville is launching a new program to help solve the issue.
"Teachers are just not being produced by colleges like they were years and years ago," said Doug Parker, Big Foot School District Superintendent.
Parker says he has had a hard time filling some teaching positions, including math teacher positions, recently. He believes low salaries lead qualified candidates to search for jobs in other industries.
"Depending on the skill, we can use math as an example., you could go to a university and become a math teacher and get paid around $35,000 coming out of college." said Parker. "Or you could possibly go into actuarial sciences, my nephew did that, and he came out and he's making $60,000 and $70,000 - what are you going to do?" he said.
School budgets are tight - especially in rural communities.
According to the Wisconsin Rural Schools Alliance, the starting pay for teachers is between $35,000 to $46,000. In the Milwaukee area, starting salaries can begin at $48,000.
Dr. Jen Collins, Director of the School of Education at UW-Platteville, says she hears concerns about low pay from students often.
"We don't pay teachers enough for the work they're doing. We especially see lower salaries in rural communities," Collins said. "They might want to go back to a rural community, but they just can't afford to do so."
That's why she and her colleagues have developed a new program. UW-Platteville is now offering a new program that might help fill jobs.
New education students at UW-Platteville who commit to elementary or middle level education majors, stay with the program for four years, then get hired post-graduation, can get help paying back student loan debt until they make at least $48,000 per year.
"We're really hoping this is going to help us fill some of those needed positions in rural communities," said Collins.
It's a much-needed incentive that school districts like Big Foot could benefit from.
"We can't complete with the city and the suburb salary schedules. You just can't, there's too much money there," said Parker.
For more information on UW-Platteville's new program, contact Dr. Jen Collins by calling 608-342-1248 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org