A road sign near Genoa. Rural school superintendents say low pay, isolation, and fewer teacher candidates make it hard to attract teachers.

(Jenny Brundin/CPR News)

Confronting the severe shortage of teachers in rural Colorado is the aim of a new bill under consideration at the state legislature.

One of the challenges for recruiting teachers to rural areas is that teacher candidates don’t know about the wide variety of opportunities there, say administrators. 

Plus, they are competing with other districts in terms of salary, says bill sponsor Sen. Nancy Todd, D-Aurora.

So the bill would set up rural education centers in the state’s teacher preparation colleges and provide stipends to offset tuition for those who do their student teaching in rural areas. Specifically, the bill would offset costs for teachers who want to get nationally certified – a way for them to gain skills and boost their salary. 

Todd says the state has helped increase the number of teachers in high poverty urban schools and now rural schools need the same help.

"They are having a hard time even staffing a full school, so a third grade class, a kindergarten class, so it’s not just the math and science," she said.

The bill would also set up a teacher cadet program for high school students. The bill doesn’t have a price-tag yet, which may determine its chances, but so far has some bipartisan, urban and rural support.