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Amid School ‘Staff Shortages,’ Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Announces Teacher & Para-Educator Apprenticeship Funding

Published Sunday, June 12, 2022
by Katie Akin/The Des Moines Register
Amid School ‘Staff Shortages,’ Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Announces Teacher & Para-Educator Apprenticeship Funding

(DES MOINES, IOWA) - High school students in more than 130 Iowa School Districts may start training as Para-Educators, Governor Kim Reynolds has announced, which is part of a new grant program designed to bring more Teachers into the workforce. 

The Teacher and Para-Educator Registered Apprenticeship Pilot Grant Program allocates $45.6 million for school districts across the State to create two Apprenticeship tracks: One track will allow high schoolers and adults to train as Classroom Aides, ultimately earning a Para-Educator Certificate and working toward an Associate's Degree; The other will allow current Para-Educators to earn a Bachelor's Degree and a full Teaching License.

Reynolds said the program may lead to the certification of 500 new teachers and 500 new Para-Educators: “Through valuable partnerships, this program makes post-secondary educational opportunities available at the fingertips of high school students before graduating high school.  And, we’re not done yet - this pilot program is just the beginning of what we hope will expand across the State.” 

The grant program draws from Federal COVID-19 Relief Funds.

The money is allocated directly to 19 school districts, many of which will partner with neighboring districts to offer Apprenticeships. 

Ultimately, 134 Iowa school districts will have access to Para-Educator or Teacher Apprenticeship Programs in the 2022-2023 school year.

When Reynolds announced the grant program in her January Condition of the State address, she planned to allocate $9 million to the initiative.

The just announced grants total more than $45 million - five times more than the initial amount.

A Reynolds spokesperson said the increase was due to "the overwhelming response we received and the quality of applications."

Iowa schools have reckoned with a teacher and Staff shortage as schools over the past several years.

Saydel High School closed for a day in November due to a severe Staff shortage and districts around Central Iowa have struggled to fill openings for Teachers and Para-Educators, as well as Bus Drivers, Cafeteria Workers, Special Education Professionals and more.

As schools let out for the Summer, even more Teachers were on their way out the door: Axios Des Moines reports more than 500 Teachers resigned in the Des Moines Metro at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, including about 300 Teachers in the Des Moines Public School System.

Beth Townsend, who serves as the Director of Iowa Workforce Development, said the Apprenticeship Program "will expand and create more opportunities for Iowans who might not otherwise believe a career in education is possible."

To Read This Apprenticeship And Training Labor News Story, Go To: www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/politics/2022/06/09/iowa-school-districts-start-teacher-paraeducator-apprenticeships-kim-reynolds/7569579001/

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