By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For districts across the state, a new type of school year is getting underway.

Thousands of students will be taking part in summer school to get caught up after a challenging year.

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But some districts are struggling to find enough teachers to teach them.

“That staffing shortage for summer is a real serious situation,” said Watertown-Mayer Public Schools Superintendent Darren Schuler.

Minnesota schools received $75 million in federal aid to expand summer learning programs. Schuler said that was encouraging. But getting teachers back in the classroom is easier said than done.

“This year more than any others teachers were burnt out. They were stressed from a very difficult school year,” said Schuler. “This is the one summer where teachers needed that time to recalibrate and start fresh next school year.”

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The teacher shortage comes at a time when demand for summer school is on the rise. At Watertown-Mayer, student enrollment is up about 30% compared to previous summers.

They are far from alone. In an attempt to attract summer school teachers the Rosemount-Eagan-Apple Valley School District increased its summer pay rate from $31 an hour to $50 an hour.

Watertown-Mayer isn’t offering incentives yet but it is looking at hiring paraprofessionals from outside the district to fill open spots. The district is also looking at hiring high school students to work with elementary kids.

“They definitely need it this year. They regressed a lot,” said parent Niki Miller. “The reading. Everything regressed.”

Miller is a mother of four. Her two youngest kids will be in summer school, trying to get caught up. She’s thankful for the teachers that will be there to help.

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“”hey do a great job. The teachers are amazing that we have,” said Miller. “I’ve learned that I cannot fill those shoes.”

John Lauritsen