To give voters more information on the perspectives of State Board of Education, Clark County School District, and Washoe County School District Board candidates, Opportunity 180 introduced the Question of the Week to accompany its Primary Election Voter Guide. Each week, candidates will have the option to respond to a question emailed to all candidates for whom we have contact information. Participation is voluntary, and responses are published as is. Below are the responses from candidates to this week’s question.

This week’s question is: If elected, you’ll be in a position to advise on how the community addresses the current teacher shortage. What would your advice be to address the shortage, and how would you ensure that the steps and approach you advise would translate into improved student performance?


State Board of Education – District 2

Dr. Paul Davis

A: To deal with the teacher shortage, the top priority is competitive salaries for our teachers and those who wish to enter the teaching field. These are highly professional individuals who must be compensated as highly competitive individuals. The old saying is true: You get what you pay for. You also have to deal with the problem of unrealistic and excessive workload management that often leads to teacher burnout and leaving the profession. New technologies are tools that should be provided to teachers so that they can learn and stimulate their desire for teaching and success for their students. Recruitment strategies must be strengthened to deliver success, leading to hiring and including all people.

A positive, enthusiastic teaching environment and workplace without barely surviving economically should improve student performance. A positive and energetic attitude is transmitted to students and encourages them to strive for success in their educational pursuits and life.


State Board of Education – District 3

Rene Cantu

A: In order to eradicate the teacher shortage in the long term, Nevada (CCSD) must create, grow, nurture alternative teacher pipelines. Helping teacher’s aides, substitutes and others to complete their credentials is vital to addressing the pipeline. Finding a solution to the length of time it takes for prospective educators to get their background checks runs not into weeks, but months. We must also grow our own teachers from Nevada for Nevada. Taking a competency-based approach to teacher licensure might also help us move away from the credentialism of the current system, to one where your licensure depends on what you can do as a teacher. About 15 years ago, Nevada had an excellent program called STEP UP at Nevada State University. We must create teacher pipelines that lead from cap and gown into college and into our classrooms. By growing our own teachers right here in Southern Nevada, we will create a cadre of teachers who are members of this community and vested in its well-being.


Clark County School District – District A

Emily Stevens

A: My advice would be the following:

  1. Create an environment in our schools and in the district where people would want to teach. Steps to making that happen would be to revisit the teachers’ contract and ensure that our more “senior” teachers are paid what they deserve. Current policies only motivate teachers to leave our state, teach elsewhere for a few years, and then come back just so that they can be paid a competitive wage. We should take care of them while they are with us and encourage retention. Another step that would support an environment where folks would want to teach in our district would be to create and implement strong policies around school safety. The safety and care of our students, teachers, and staff must be the district’s highest priority. If teachers don’t feel that their safety is a priority, it will be challenging to recruit new teachers. We must establish an environment where people would want to teach at our district.
  2. We need to utilize the expertise around us. Our community is filled with amazing and talented people. We have senior HR people in our city who have been responsible for hiring thousands of workers in a short time so that a new hotel/casino could open on time (just as an example). Our school district should be working with individuals and/or organizations within our community that can jump in, consult, provide outside views, offer resources and then ultimately, get the job done.

It is absolutely imperative that CCSD focuses on the first step before the second. The best and most successful recruiters in the world will always struggle with this endeavor if we don’t provide an environment that is conducive to teaching and learning. If we can create this amazing new environment in our schools, then we can fill the teacher vacancies. Both of these steps will help students will feel safe, students will have consistent teachers in the classroom again, and student performance will rise. It will take some time, but this community is great at coming together and making things like this happen! I believe that we have the solutions… we just have to get started.


Clark County School District – District B

Russ Burns

A: To tackle the shortage of teachers in CCSD and enhance student performance, a comprehensive approach is needed, involving better recruitment and retention strategies, addressing teacher challenges, and implementing effective policies.

Addressing Teacher Shortage

  • Cultivate Diverse Teacher Pipelines: We must attract a broader pool of candidates, including those from underrepresented groups. This could involve partnerships with colleges and universities, offering incentives for those entering the field, and promoting the benefits of teaching. Collaborating with institutions like UNLV and NSU, who already have fast-track programs for those interested in teaching is already a great start.
  • Streamline Hiring: Simplifying the application process, minimizing paperwork, and expediting interviews can make teaching positions more appealing. Delays in contacting references can be particularly frustrating, a hurdle I’ve faced myself, when I applied to work for CCSD.
  • Enhance Support Systems: Providing ongoing mentorship and professional development opportunities can bolster teacher retention. New teachers benefit from mentoring, while experienced educators benefit from coaching to refine their skills.
  • Address Cultural and Resource Needs: Surveys and focus groups can identify areas for improvement in school culture and resource allocation. This includes addressing concerns like pay, workload, and professional growth opportunities.
  • Recognize Leadership’s Role: Effective leadership is vital. Teachers thrive with supportive administrations. Without it, morale and resources suffer, impacting education quality. Educators play a pivotal role in society, often undervalued compared to other professions.

Improving Student Performance

  • Address Learning Gaps: The pandemic has exacerbated learning loss and social-emotional needs. Targeted interventions, such as tutoring and counseling, can mitigate these effects. Perhaps even placing an emphasis on student interactions with teacher lead Socratic-type debate and conversations with help to bridge the gap of emotional and communicational development lost by the COVID-19 pandemic, and even with the successive use of technology.
  • Revise Classroom Management Policies: Flexible policies that empower teachers to manage behavior and set standards are essential for effective instruction. Allowing students and teachers to build the policies within the classroom based on shared goals and expectations. This creates trust in the teacher, and a community/culture within the classroom.
  • Support Teachers and Parents: Providing mental health resources and supporting parental involvement are crucial. Technology can facilitate communication between teachers, students, and parents, fostering a collaborative environment. I believe education involves a triangle between parent, student, teacher in order to foster actual growth, education, and shared understanding for all involved.
  • Engage the Community: Community involvement, through volunteer programs and partnerships with local businesses, strengthens support networks for students and teachers alike. It also contributes to shared community, culture, and ownership of education.

By implementing these strategies, CCSD can address teacher shortages and enhance student performance. Continuous evaluation and feedback from educators, administrators, and the community are essential for ongoing improvement.


Clark County School District – District C

Evelyn Garcia Morales

A: During the 2023 legislative session the Board of Trustees submitted a Bill Draft Request (BDR) SB237 to address the statewide teacher shortage through improving wages and working conditions, nationwide license reciprocity, paid application fees, higher education pipeline program funding, etc. While the bill did not make it out of committee, elements of it were included in SB71 to create an inclusive task force to identify policy solutions to improve working conditions for public education employees. Additionally, there are other bills that were passed that provide an analysis of teacher workload (SB72), a study from the Commision on Innovation and Excellence in Education increase student achievement (SB425), the Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact requiring the Commission on Professional Standards in Education to adopt regulations for licensing teachers (SB442), and requires a strategic plan for the recruitment teachers and licensed educational personnel from the Superintendent of Public Instruction (AB323). Our community will continue to benefit from a collaborative and coordinated approach to help address the teacher shortage that we experience locally and statewide.

Tameka Henry

A: To address our educator shortage it would take a multi-layered approach:

  1. Competitive Salaries and Benefits:

Ensure teachers are compensated fairly and equitably to attract and retain the talent that we have.

  1. Professional Development:

Invest in ongoing training and support for teachers to enhance their skills and effectiveness in the classroom. This can improve student outcomes by ensuring teachers are equipped to meet diverse learning needs.

  1. Recruitment Strategies: Implement targeted recruitment efforts to attract individuals from diverse backgrounds into the teaching profession. This could include scholarships, increasing partnerships with local universities, starting the educator pipeline at more of our high schools, and offering incentives towards housing and relocation fees.

4. Reducing Administrative Burdens:

Streamline administrative tasks and paperwork for teachers to allow them to focus more on teaching and student engagement.

  1. Creating Supportive Work Environments:

Foster a positive and supportive work environment for teachers, including opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and work-life balance.

To ensure these steps translate into improved student performance, it’s essential to:

  1. Monitor Progress:

Regularly assess if recruitment and retention strategies are working and if we are meeting our goals.

  1. Data-Driven Decision Making:

Use student performance data to identify areas for improvement and tailor support for teachers accordingly.

  1. Continuous Feedback Loop:

Encourage open communication between administrators, teachers, students, and parents to identify address challenges and implement solutions in real-time.

  1. Invest in Student Support Services:

Alongside efforts to recruit and retain teachers, invest in support services such as counselors, social workers, and academic interventions to address the needs of students facing educational barriers.

By taking a comprehensive approach like Head Start programs do and continuously monitoring progress, we can work towards filling our classrooms and keep them full. This will ultimately improve student performance and outcomes.


Clark County School District – District E

Kamilah Bywaters

A: Currently, there are programs addressing the teacher shortage. Local universities are preparing support staff to become teachers, and Alternate Route to Licensing programs are available for newcomers to teaching. These initiatives are reducing the shortage, and I fully support them. To further tackle the shortage, we must ensure teachers and support staff receive fair pay. Salaries should reflect their education and experience, adjusted annually. Competitive salaries are crucial to attract and retain talent, including from outside our state. School leaders should prioritize funding for this purpose, as it directly impacts student performance. Improving student achievement requires evidence-based strategies and qualified teachers in every classroom. I look forward to working with district leaders to monitor student achievement and progress and tracking data to determine if our initiatives are bringing results.


Paula Korth-Salsman

A: With a background in talent acquisition, human resources, and business operations, I’ve specialized in sourcing highly qualified candidates for challenging and competitive positions. The challenges and concerns raised by educators and staff regarding burnout, staffing shortages, and the increasing rate of professionals exiting the education sector have been loud and clear. Without addressing the core issues plaguing the field, the situation will remain unchanged. Continuing our current approaches will only yield the same outcomes we’ve always seen.

My recommendation is to first thoroughly investigate these core problems and then strategize on filling the existing gaps. It’s essential to look at empirical data and examine strategies other successful districts have implemented to effect change. Monitoring any implemented changes with key performance indicators is crucial to evaluate their effectiveness or lack thereof. It is impossible to gauge the success of any initiative without this critical analysis. While hosting career fairs and forming partnerships with universities might mitigate teacher shortages temporarily, these actions are insufficient without addressing the core problems. Solely depending on such methods is not only insufficient but also disheartening to the dedicated educators currently in the field. To genuinely improve student outcomes, it’s essential to establish precise, quantifiable objectives linked to student learning. Ensuring continuous teacher development should align with educational tactics that boost student engagement and performance. By regularly evaluating progress and incorporating feedback, educational strategies can be refined to achieve the intended outcomes. A supported and fairly compensated teaching staff is central to an education system’s success, invariably leading to improved student achievements.


Leonard Lither 

A: There are several critical steps to address the teacher shortage in our district. Firstly, the pay scale must be revisited. Although the overall pay is sufficient, there is an imbalance in compensation between teachers hired from outside the state—who are recognized for further education and years of experience—and those within the district who are not, resulting in local teachers being underpaid and leaving.

Another crucial issue is teacher morale, which is adversely affected by a lack of respect from some parents, school administrators, and district supervisors. Teachers are told they are responsible for academic growth, yet must adhere strictly to the curriculum, facing repercussions if they deviate.

Insurance costs are also a significant burden; last year, after taxes, I netted about $50,000, but after insurance, only about $40,000 remained. It is unreasonable for teachers to pay $10,000 to provide insurance for their families.

By addressing the pay scale, providing better insurance, and fostering a positive working environment, we can make our district a desirable place for teachers to stay and to which new teachers want to move. These changes not only help retain and attract quality teachers but also enhance student performance by ensuring stability and satisfaction in our educational workforce.


Joshua Logie

A: I see this problem as three separate issues. 

First, teacher pay and benefits must continue to improve to reflect the importance and difficulty of the work they do, and the cost-of-living in Las Vegas. There must be a proactive approach to ensure the state appropriately funds the district, which means the school board and superintendent must engage with legislators and the public to guide fund allocation. It shouldn’t take a strike, sick-out, or threats to continuously take care of teachers.

Second, recruitment and retention need to be balanced appropriately to ensure we are attracting new talent while simultaneously recognizing that retaining existing talent and experience is critical. There is ZERO justification for a new teacher making more money than an equally credentialed existing teacher. Without a deliberate effort to appropriately compensate existing teachers retroactively, there will continue to be an exodus of experience that will take many years to replenish.

Finally, the culture within many schools and between schools and the community must improve. One of the most common complaints I hear from educators is how under-appreciated and disrespected they are. At the school level, the superintendent must hold administrators accountable to the culture he/she establishes for positive student success. At the community level, a concerted effort must occur to help caregivers understand the important role they play in defining student success. A student spends a majority of their time outside of school and if they bring disruptive behavior into the school it is to the detriment of educators and other learners. The learning team is made up of teachers, students, and the community. One cannot succeed without the other.

Addressing the teacher shortage through appropriate benefits, increased staff, and improved culture will positively reflect in student success. When teachers are able to place more attention on their students by removing life burdens and disruptive behavior, and the learning team is supportive in and out of school it is easy to see how student performance and results will improve.


Carlo Meguerian

A: First we need to open the books and look at our expenses, I know there is money in the budget to give teachers a livable wage for the number of ours they put in. Then we need to look at the teachers we have now and make sure the good teachers are being rewarded and the bad ones not. we need to also look at recruiting teachers from other states who are qualified and want to educate our future. Our teachers are over worked and underpaid at times, they also use their own money to buy school supplies for students and their classrooms, that shouldn’t be the case, I will push a marketing effort to get business in the area to sponsor classrooms and help teachers and schools with the cost. We need to help our teachers and schools get back to education and the parents need to be involved in that to help make sure their child is successful, most parents look at public schools at daycare for their child, and we need to help break that mindset, parents need to help teachers make sure that their child isn’t being a distraction while they are at school and make sure they aren’t being absent from school. Parent participation in the education of the students is key, without the schools, teachers and parents working together we will have no chance in educating and getting our children ready for the future. Once we get parents to start paying attention to their child’s education it will get the students to care more and try harder. Lets get back to real education and balancing the budget to make our children’s future bright.


Matthew Tramp

A: It is important to include teachers in developing solutions for the severe nationwide shortage within the teaching profession. While many solutions can be considered in the district, like improved benefits, pay increases, and improved climate/culture, many more solutions exist outside of school districts. Colleges aren’t producing enough graduates for the education sector. Solutions need to include multiple entities who focus on the issue for an extended period of time.

Additionally, investing in professional development opportunities and creating a positive work environment can help retain current teachers. To ensure that the steps translate into improve student performance it is important to regularly assess and adjust teaching strategies and curriculum to meet the needs of students. Collaboration between teachers, administrators, and community members can also contribute to a successful approach.



Washoe County School District – District D

Ron P. Dreher

A: There are two important ways to recruit and retain educators to ensure student success.

First of all, pay issues for teachers must be addressed. While wages for teachers in the WCSD provided by ESSER funds and the American Rescue Act have recently increased, it remains to be seen if the increased salaries will provide the needed recruitment incentives. My thoughts in this area would be to provide on the job pay for those completing their university classroom internship. Expecting those future teachers to work without pay while they go through their “student teaching period” is a luxury that few students can afford. Also, currently, because of the districts “one pay check a month policy” a beginning teacher must wait several months to receive their first pay check. Most other public sector employees, except for teachers and certified employees, are paid every 2 weeks for 26 pay periods a year. Our teachers and certified members receive only 12 pay checks a year. One solution – change the archaic pay system for all to 26 pay periods a year.

Filling the shortage gap also means finding short term solutions to fill the current empty positions. One option would be to actively recruit qualified full and part time substitute teachers and pay them wages and limited benefits that allow them to survive economically in our county. We should also continue to do what the Nevada legislature approved several sessions known as “critical staffing”. This measure allowed retired teachers to be hired back while allowing them to receive their full retirement check from our public employment retirement system. This change is already an incentive that has brought successful, experienced educators back into the classrooms.

Secondly, mentor support and on-going training are essential to teacher success and ultimately to teacher retention. Successful teachers build successful students.

One-on-one mentors, who should be experienced same grade level teachers serve as guides to help new or returning teachers as they work through the curriculum and learn the values of their grade level standards.

Administrator and counsellor support is also very important as these “new” educators work through managing the varied student learning styles and behaviors that they face.

In summary, financial and professional support are essential to teacher recruitment and retention.



Washoe County School District – District G

Jacqlyn Di Carlo


A: My advice to address the teacher shortage would be to increase pay and benefits for teachers as well as ensure safety and protection for teachers and students. I would ensure this would translate into student performance by enforcing rules on bullying and behavioral issues as well as providing bonuses for teachers with noticeable improvement in their classes’ overall performance.



Diane Nicolet

A: My advice in addressing the current teacher shortage is to continue working in partnership with our colleges of higher education & professional development opportunities to focus on current challenges facing public schools such as: attendance, low math & reading performance, parent involvement, discipline, authentic assessment & legislative advocacy. I will continue my involvement in higher education activities that provide me with a voice. As the Nevada Association of School Boards Legislative Committee Chair, I will work alongside my NV colleagues to grow the support realized in the 2023 NV Legislative Session. Eliminating unfunded mandates & increased per-pupil funding must continue to be priorities.