Nov 4, 2013 6:22 PM by Nathan O'Neal
TUCSON - The largest school district in Southern Arizona is facing a teacher shortage.
It's halfway through the school year and Tucson Unified School District still has 33 job openings for teachers.
It's a problem that the district has tried to cope with amidst years of budget cuts and layoffs that can make it especially hard to attract new teachers.
"We've had as many as 500 teachers riffed, most of them find their way back that want to come... but anytime that you have a riff you're going to lose a percentage of teachers because they're just not going to wait around," said Frances Banales, President of the Tucson Education Association.
Banales told News 4 Tucson that TUSD has been stuck in a cycle of disarray, making it hard to retain quality teachers. However, there are many other factors at play as well including positions that are difficult to fill because of the nature of the subject matter such as math or art.
Some positions, Banales says, are hard to fill because of their geographic location -- with some schools located on the outskirts of town.
Still, some argue that salary is a big issue that needs addressing in order to become more competitive with other school districts.
"We've got to take care of the people's salary.... job security and just recognition," Banales said.
Banales also said that an unstable set of teachers could have a huge impact on the students.
"It affects student achievement. It affects the community ... and it affects the profession... So absolutely we have to get on this and I think that this is a key area that this leadership is going to be addressing," Banales said.
We reached out to TUSD for this story. As of the time this story aired, we had not heard back from them yet.