RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) –”It has been one of the best things that’s happened to the school district in the last couple of years.” The Rio Rancho Public Schools District says they’re grateful for a bump in pay for their teachers after it was approved in the legislature earlier this year. Their base pay went up $10,000, and from there, depending on what tier or seniority, even extra pay increases. The Public Education Department pushed for this to address the teacher shortage that has plagued New Mexico schools. Rio Rancho is just one district that says the bump in pay has benefited them greatly.

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“We have been able to fill a majority of our positions for teachers, brought a lot of teachers in from out of state, a lot of teachers who left New Mexico in the past are coming back to teach for Rio Rancho,” Wyndham Kemsley, the Communications Director for RRPS said.

Right now they have 20 openings throughout the district, most of them for Special Education teachers. A very different scenario than last year. “Everybody across the nation, really across the world, felt that struggle during the pandemic, and Rio Rancho was no different. We had a lot of hard times filling positions, a lot of people felt the strain of the pandemic, and especially now coming out of where we were a couple of years ago, we’re in a wonderful spot, a great spot in Rio Rancho as far as teachers go,” Kemsley said.

The PED says they’re seeing a 300% increase in new teacher licenses issued since the beginning of January compared to the same time last year. Most recently, they have issued more than 2,200 new teacher licenses and about 1,400 more pending. If approved, the state will have licensed more than 3,500 new teachers in the first eight months of the year. They say the increase in pay isn’t going to solve every problem, but it is one piece of the puzzle to help attract more staff.

“It’s really exciting to see all of these new applications coming in, people coming in from out of state, people graduating from programs here in state that want to go into teaching,” Seana Flanagan, Interim Managing Director of the Public Education Department said.