Teacher shortage bills clear House, Senate

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The Washington House and Senate have passed separate bills seeking to increase the number of public school teachers in the state, in response to a perceived shortage.

House Bill 2573, passed on a vote of 92-6 on Wednesday, would require the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to create a statewide plan to bring in more teachers.

Senate Bill 6455, would allow, among other differences to the House measure, retired teachers to be teachers or substitutes without hurting their pension benefits. It passed on a 45-4 vote.

OSPI reports in a 2015 survey that 93 percent of 733 principals say they either struggle to find qualified teaching candidates or are in "crisis mode" searching for them. Forty-five percent say they couldn't fill openings with qualified teachers. The survey also found that finding substitute teachers was difficult.

About 35 percent of about 2,100 principals responded to the survey.