WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Kansas may soon be adding a new tool in the fight against the teacher shortage. According to the State’s Department of Education, in the Fall of 2022, there were more than 1,600 vacancies across Kansas.

“It’s just going to continue to get worse if we don’t do some things,” said Tyson Eslinger, Deerfield USD 216 Superintendent. “It’s getting to the point where there’s things we want to be able to do for kids, and we want to be able to offer kids, but we don’t have the bodies to do that.”

Lawmakers are looking at Senate Bill 66, which would provide more opportunities for out-of-state teachers by joining the “Interstate Teacher Mobility Compact.”

“If you come from another state with great credentials, and we’ve agreed with that state on what our mutual credentials should be, your path forward has gotten a whole lot easier and faster,” said Republican Representative Susan Estes from Wichita.

As is, the process can take up to a year in some cases.

“Every time you move, you have to start from scratch, and every state has a similar process. You have to wait for the test to be offered. You have to pay for the test. You have to wait to get to the results. You have to submit them to your department of education. The same thing happens with your transcripts,” Estes said.

The process costs potential hires time and money.

“Sometimes you eventually lose them because they don’t want to have to try to deal with it. It’s just easier for them to stay where they’re at,” Eslinger said.

Eslinger hopes this bill will add another tool to the district’s belt.

“We’re not trying to lower the quality of teacher that’s coming into our classroom. We’re just looking at tools for getting qualified professional teachers into our classroom, and this is a great option for that,” he said.

The bill passed the senate earlier this week. If it passes both chambers, it is still uncertain when the compact would begin since 10 states need to be on board to establish it.