Teacher shortages loom ahead of the new school year. UW-Madison’s School of Education is trying to help.

MADISON, Wis. – As the start of the 2022-2023 school year nears, some students in the Madison Metropolitan School District may not know who their teacher will be this fall.

District spokesperson Tim LeMonds told News 3 Now Friday there are 199 teacher vacancies and 124 vacancies for non-teaching staff.

A month from the start of classes, Madison Metropolitan School District has nearly 200 teacher openings to fill.

RELATED: A month from start of classes, Madison Metropolitan School District has nearly 200 teacher openings to fill

Kimber Wilkerson is the faculty director of UW-Madison’s Teacher Education Center. She says there are many reasons hiring teachers is difficult right now.

“A critique of the teaching profession is the pay,” said Wilkerson. “I think COVID has exacerbated that experience by making the working conditions for teachers even more challenging.”

When asked about the teacher shortage’s impact in Wisconsin, LeMonds said in an email, “All school districts in Wisconsin and the country are struggling with this issue, so there is always concern regarding staffing levels.”

This expands beyond just the state of Wisconsin. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.4% of educational services jobs were open in December 2021 — more than double the rate (2.6%) from a year prior.

The nationwide issue could also be credited to teachers leaving the classroom after they start, according to CBS News.

The University of Wisconsin-Madison aims to help this nationwide issue through the School of Education Wisconsin Teacher Pledge Program.

In this program, the School of Education pledges to pay the equivalent of in-state tuition and fees, testing, and licensing costs for all our teacher education students. In return, future educators pledge to work at a Wisconsin PK-12 school for three to four years after graduation.

Wilkerson said this program is important to get new teachers into jobs and keep them there.

“In this environment particularly, universities, and certainly us included, are thinking about induction support,” said Wilkerson.

There is some optimism about the hires that need to be made within MMSD. The district says it has hired over 406 positions over the summer. The nine principal positions that were open within MMSD were filled, according to the district.