MUSD retains teachers amid record shortage in state


There may be a severe shortage of teachers around Arizona, but Maricopa Unified School District defies that dire trend.

There are only about 10 vacancies with 471 teachers on staff at MUSD, said Tom Beckett, assistant superintendent for human resources.

That’s just more than a 2% rate of teacher vacancies, compared to a 30% teacher vacancy rate around the state.

“We are encouraged by the success of our recruitment efforts and work hard to stay proactive in identifying new strategies to maintain a pool of qualified candidates,” Beckett said.

A statewide trend of growing teacher shortages reached its eighth consecutive year in 2023, Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association survey results show.

The ASPAA data indicates 29.7% of teaching jobs across the state this year remain unfilled. The survey also found 53.2% of the vacancies are filled by teachers who do not meet the state’s standard certification requirements.

Since 2016, about a quarter of teaching positions were unfilled a month into each school year.

There has been a continued increase in teacher vacancies filled by people through various alternative pathways because they did not meet the state’s teacher requirements.

Beckett said MUSD has maintained its strong teacher staff numbers by offering competitive salaries and benefits and cultivating talent “within the walls of MUSD. The district also invested in training and supporting classified staff and students who aspire to become teachers, Beckett said.

“The district also recognizes the significance of attracting and retaining top-tier educators,” Beckett said. “MUSD provides a competitive salary and comprehensive benefits to ensure our teachers feel valued and supported in their professional and personal growth.”

MUSD engages in year-round recruitment efforts to identify, attract and meet with potential educators, Beckett said.

The district also seeks our foreign national teacher candidates.

Embracing diversity as a strength, our foreign national teachers broaden perspectives and enrich learning for both students and fellow educators,” Beckett said.

Other striking numbers from the ASPAA survey:

  • 7,518 statewide teacher openings need to be filled this school year.
  • 1,158 vacancies were filled this year by people who received an emergency teacher certificate or emergency substitute teacher certificate.
  • 110 teachers have abandoned their jobs since the start of the school year.
  • 319 teachers resigned, regardless of reason, in which the school approved their “release of contract” since the start of the school year.