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SD special education: Too many students, too few teachers

Published: May. 5, 2016 at 1:13 PM CDT
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South Dakota’s two largest school districts are struggling to get enough special education teachers to fill vacancies while the number of students needing that extra tutoring continues to climb.

Rapid City Area Schools special education student count has climbed by about 9 percent; 200 more students in the last five years. At the same time, the district has eight special education teacher positions to fill.

Increasingly, districts have to hire teachers who still don’t have the specific certification for special education. In Rapid City, three current teachers (one just hired) are still working to finish their special ed certification.

Sioux Falls, according to an Associated Press story, has the same problem; an 8 percent growth in special education students and a fourth of teachers hired last year are not certified in special ed.

The AP reports that 61 of the 364 teacher vacancies in the state are for special education positions. Randall Royer with the Associated School Boards of South Dakota says supply isn't meeting demand.