Larry LeDoux, the superintendent for KIBSD, recently announced that he plans to retire. That’s a problem for him- it represents yet another position he needs to fill.
“We have an assistant superintendent position open. We have a director of facilities open, we have a high school principal position open. And it’s possible we could have others as the year progresses, you never know,” LeDoux said.
The pandemic has had an impact on the school’s hiring. And LeDoux says they’ve had to change their tactics. The district begins its hiring process earlier in the year and in-person recruitment – like job fairs – is more difficult because of COVID.
The lack of staff has been exacerbated by the pandemic. District schools closed intermittently in January due to teacher illness and administrative staff were pulled to teach classes.
LeDoux says Alaska doesn’t attract teachers like it used to. Salaries aren’t particularly high compared to other states, according to LeDoux, and the state’s retirement package isn’t competitive either. The prospect of living in Alaska, especially on an island, is a barrier to many.
“Back in the 90s, if you will, when we used to go to job fairs in Anchorage, there would be 1200 candidates from all over the country gathered in Anchorage. And if you had one opening, you would maybe have 50 applicants. Lately- and this is not just because of COVID- you go to the same job fair and there may be more districts than there are teachers,” LeDoux said.
There is one strategy to filling positions- the district can try to hire other Alaskans in districts from around the state.
But even that hasn’t been enough to fill in the school’s hiring deficit. Because of that, the administration is considering looking outside of the United States for more teachers.
“So we are actually working with the State Department to hire teachers from the Philippines, who, by their credentials, are as good as anybody in the world,” LeDoux said.
That’s some time away- in the interim, LeDoux still needs to find someone to succeed him as superintendent.