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A Frank Discussion of the Challenges for Colorado's Rural Teachers

Few housing options, community dynamics, and low pay have made it challenging to live and teach in rural parts of Colorado, educators said in a recent article by Chalkbeat Colorado.

The article highlights the many challenges of recruiting and retaining teachers in the Holyoke School District, which serves less than 600 students in northeast corner of the state. Superintendent Bret Miles told Chalkbeat Colorado that pay cuts have made it harder to attract teachers. To alleviate teacher shortages, the district has focused on recruiting local community members who can teach with alternative licenses, and Miles has interviewed international candidates for hard-to-fill positions. Some teachers in the district say a lack of adequate housing makes it difficult to stay, while others say that the small town community can be challenging because "the lines between work and personal are blurred."

Nationwide, rural schools often struggle to recruit and retain teachers, especially schools that are low performing. These schools have reported low morale among students and teachers, and low parent involvement. Some states have attempted to attract educators by providing incentives or services to teachers in rural areas. Several rural schools that are receiving money from the federal School Improvement Grant program have offered financial incentives for teachers in the form of signing bonuses or performance-based pay. In West Virginia, a private-public collaborative project has purchased property to build housing for educators in an effort to retain local teachers.  

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