Student teacher scholarship bill would offer an incentive to teach in rural districts after graduation

Published: Feb. 5, 2021 at 11:55 AM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - There’s a rural teacher shortage and retention problem in North Dakota.

Administrators say colleges are graduating enough teachers to fill the need in our state, but they say most graduates flock to larger districts.

Senate Bill 2229 would give teachers an incentive to teach in rural areas.

The bill establishes a scholarship program through the North Dakota Board of Education for student teachers enrolled in a North Dakota college who agree to teach in one of the state’s rural school districts upon graduation.

The scholarship would be worth $15,000.

Kindergarten teacher Kaitlyn Murphy has been at Killdeer Public School for almost two years and said there are benefits to working in a smaller district.

“Being able to talk to the school board, being able to talk to the superintendent, your ideas are heard, and then they follow through with what they tell you. So, if you come to them with an idea and then they address it, you know it’s getting taken care of one way or the other,” said Murphy.

Killdeer Public School Superintendent Jeff Simmons said it is a challenge recruiting graduates to smaller districts, but he looks for educators who have a reason to stay in those communities.

“Many times, we try to attract and retain teachers who are connected to the land either, you know, through marriage, or, you know, this is where the family is living,” said Simmons.

Officials of North Dakota United and the North Dakota School Boards Association spoke in favor of the bill.

“We’re told from our teacher preparation colleges that we’re graduating enough teachers to fill the open positions they just sometimes prefer to be in some of our larger cities and towns in North Dakota,” said Alexis Baxley of the North Dakota School Boards Association.

No one spoke in opposition to the bill.

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