District 118 still looking for special education teachers

Danville's District 118 currently has nine vacancies for special education teachers. (WCCU)

A shortage of special education teachers across the State of Illinois has Danville’s District 118 considering a new hiring approach.

Danville schools are headed into the new school year with nine vacancies for special education teachers, this is according to the district’s Assistant Director of Special Education, Lindsey Nixon.

Nixon said to fill these spots, the district is considering using a contract service.

District 118 has experience using similar services for hiring more specialized positions, but this is the first time they’re considering it for special education teachers.

Nixon said this isn’t the ideal way to hire, but with 900 of the district’s students needing special education, there’s no time to waste.

"We would always like to hire our own staff,” she said. “We always want teachers to feel a part of the district…with a contract company that person could decide, well I’ve done a year, maybe I want to try a different school district or a different location.”

Other school districts are faced with a similar struggle.

Champaign Unit 4 reports four openings for special education teachers, and Urbana’s District 116 reports three openings.

District 118 special education teacher, Kayla Overstreet, finds this shortage upsetting.

"Teachers get into the profession because it's something that they love and they want to support the students,” Overstreet said. “So it's kind of disheartening that people aren't jumping on the bandwagon and wanting to teach."

After spending eight years working at Danville High School, Overstreet has seen how this shortage affects the students.

"Instead of me being the case manager for 15 kids, I might now have 20," Overstreet said.

According to Nixon, the District 118 School Board was set to vote on whether to use a contract service at their meeting Wednesday night. Before the meeting began, Nixon informed Fox Illinois that the matter had been taken off the agenda.

No reason was given for the change, but Nixon said the board may revisit the matter at their August meeting.

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