Series of statewide town halls to address crippling teacher shortage in Colorado

DENVER -- Colorado may be on the verge of an educational crisis as the state struggles with a deficit of 3,000 educators that is impacting thousands of students.

In an effort to address the shortage, the Colorado Department of Higher Education and Colorado Department of Education will host a series of town hall meetings throughout the summer to gather feedback for creating a strategic plan.

The meetings are part of legislation passed this year to develop a plan to resolve the state’s educator shortage.

The burden to attract and retain educators is especially difficult in rural Colorado, but larger districts are increasingly finding it difficult to fill positions as well.

Some of the reasons for the shortage include a smaller number people choosing to go into the profession. The total number of individuals completing an educator preparation program at Colorado colleges during the 2015-16 school year declined by 2.2 percent from the previous year, according to a recent report. The total represents a 24 percent decrease from 2010.

Colorado’s high cost of living and the profession’s comparatively low starting salary is also contributing to the shortage.

Teachers starting out in Colorado make only around $32,000 on average, while other states have an average starting salary of more than $40,000.

Denver teachers earn a median salary of just over $53,000 a year, and many struggle to find affordable housing.

At least 10 town hall meetings have been scheduled around the state for the summer. The first meeting will take place Wednesday in Ridgeway. A second meeting follows in Parachute on Friday.

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