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Nevada's Clark County Making Headway in Filling Teacher Vacancies

Clark County, the nation's fifth-largest school district, has long struggled to fill vacant teaching positions before the start of each the school year. But it looks like the district might be getting a handle on its perennial teacher shortage.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, district officials told the Nevada Board of Education recently that it now has only 370 teacher-vacancies to fill before the school year gets underway. That's down from 700 in June.

If those numbers still seem high, consider this: Last July, the district had more than 1,000 teaching slots to fill, according to the Review-Journal.

The district has tried a number of ways to attract new teachers, including holding out-of-state and virtual job fairs; launching a slick marketing campaign last year, dubbed "Calling All Heroes"; and offering financial incentives. One such incentive is geared toward keeping teachers in low-income schools, the paper reported.

Clark County's chief recruitment officer, Mike Gentry, told the board of education that the recruitment strategy also included reaching out to teachers on social media, including Facebook.

The district's teacher-staffing woes has roots in years of rising student enrollment, retirements, and not enough new teachers graduating from education schools in Nevada and, to some extent, nationwide. 

The Review-Journal noted that state board of education members saw the district's hiring data as a "step in the right direction," though they were restrained in their praise.

"It's consoling to see that we are finally starting to address this," Elaine Wynn, the state board of education president, was quoted as saying.

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