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Fox Business
Fox Business
6 Sep 2023

As a new school year begins, some students are finding themselves in classes without licensed teachers while districts across the nation face shortages across the board – ranging from school nurses and psychologists to educators. 

Clark County School District, the largest in Nevada and the fifth largest in America, is also the district facing the most teacher vacancies in the state.

Kristan Nigro, who has been teaching in Clark County for 10 years, said she is concerned for students' educations.

"We have 2,000 vacancies at the moment. Thirty-five thousand students do not have a licensed educator in front of them, and that is disgusting," said Nigro, who added that this is the most intense staffing crisis she has ever seen.

People hold up signs outside an education center

Educators hold up signs demanding a contract in front of the Clark County School District Education Center in Nevada. (Sunny Tsai / Fox News)

Nigro also stressed the difficulties of teaching large classes, describing the situation as "crowd control" instead of quality education.

"Right now, in our 4th grade and 5th grade classes, we have about 35-plus kids. How do you teach? That’s crowd control. It’s so hard," she said.

On top of the in-classroom stressors, Nigro said her career – that she truly loves – can no longer pay her bills.

"Although I’m a tenured educator, I’m a master’s educated teacher, I barely make enough money to float by, with all the different things that I’m paying, with all the things of my obligations. That puts a lot of stress on myself, not to mention the fact that it puts stress on my family," said Nigro. 

A poster states 'we love teachers.'

According to Nigro, the Clark County School District in Nevada has 2,000 teaching positions open. (Sunny Tsai / Fox News)

With so many vacancies, the school district relies on substitutes to fill in the gaps.

"If they don’t have a licensed teacher in front of them, sometimes when I taught third grade, I would have students coming to me reading at a kinder level because they had a long-term sub," said Clark County Education Association president Marie Neisess.

Neisess said teachers are not only leaving Clark County, they are leaving the profession completely. 

"Everything from safety and the behavior we’re dealing with in the classroom, but clearly their benefits and their salary that’s a huge impact," she explained.

The Nevada Department of Education said it has placed teacher-in-training academies at high schools to build the next generation of teachers, but that teacher shortages are not uncommon.

A sign for the Nevada Department of Education hangs on the wall above fall decor.

The Nevada Department of Education placed teacher-in-training academies in the state's high schools to help build the next generation of teachers. (Sunny Tsai / Fox News)

"What’s exciting about that is we are starting to see the fruits of that investment, so those high school students when those programs started in 2017 as high school freshmen are now college juniors, and we expect them to be in the classroom as fully licensed teachers in the fall of ‘25," said Jeff Briske, NDE's director of Office of Educator Development.

School districts in Nevada are also placing student teachers in classrooms to help out with the shortages.