Almost a thousand classrooms across Nevada do not have licensed teachers. To learn more about the state's troubling teacher shortage, and how it could affect education reforms just passed by lawmakers, Reno Public Radio's Michelle Bliss spoke to Trevon Milliard, the K-through-12 education reporter for the Reno Gazette-Journal. He also spent four years covering education in Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Most of the vacancies are in the massive Clark County School District, but there are fifty classrooms without licensed teachers in Washoe, and half of them are for special education cohorts.
"The most needy students are the ones being let down there," Milliard says.
Last legislative session, lawmakers passed more than $1 billion in tax hikes, largely for education, but Milliard says education officials and advocates fear that no amount of money can reform a broken system if there aren't properly-trained teachers who can lead the charge.
A handful of measures have been approved to deal with the teacher shortage, but Milliard says they aren't enough to spur real change.
"There's a $250 reimbursement for teachers buying school supplies, little things like that," Milliard explains, "but no large, systemic reforms to improve maybe starting salaries or just work conditions."
Along with stagnant starting salaries, Milliard points to severe overcrowding as another challenge teachers face each day in the classroom.