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Jeff Zander at school board meeting August 9

School District Superintendent Jeff Zander updates the school board on the district's progress filling teacher positions at school board meeting on August 9. 

ELKO – With school starting in two weeks, The Elko County School District is still looking to fill the last of its 100-plus teaching vacancies.

During Tuesday’s school board meeting the members of the board received an update on the status of the open teaching positions in the district. Assistant Superintendent Mike Smith informed the board that they have filled 83 teaching positions and have made offers to eight other potential hires.

If the offers currently on the table are accepted it will bring the total number of teacher hires to 91.

School District Superintendent Jeff Zander said there will need to be some substitute teachers in place until the district can hire the additional teachers necessary to meet the target of 105 teachers.

“No doubt, we’re going to have some long-term subs in place,” he said. “But mostly I’m happy, proud and confident that our administrators did a good job recruiting and vetting the individuals that were hired.”

The school district put an emphasis on trying to hire people from Elko County and the surrounding area but also had to recruit outside the area to address their teacher shortage. During the school board meeting Zander joked that they had “brought the whole state of Montana” to teach in the district. But, Zander also noted that finding housing can be difficult for out-of-state hires.

“More so I’m concerned about housing, not so much in the Elko or Spring Creek areas but mainly in our outlying areas,” he said. “I’m hoping that those hires are able to obtain housing and we don’t lose them as a result of that.”

The school district is currently in negotiations with the tribe in Owyhee to see if they will be able to provide housing for teachers. However, Zander acknowledge that finding housing in areas like West Wendover where there isn’t any teacher specific housing available may still be a challenge.

The district had a difficult task ahead of itself at the end of last school year as they attempted to hire over 100 teachers over the summer “It’s like this every year headed into August but we normally we haven’t filled 83 positions at this time,” he said. “I feel very fortunate, especially with the shortage we have out there. I think we’ve done our due diligence this year and we got out early and hit those recruiting fares and I think we have a lot of young administrators doing a great job to recruit teachers out here.”

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