Kansas City-area schools are rehiring retired teachers and training counselors and coaches to teach due to a critical teacher shortage.

The Kansas City Star reports that last October the Kansas Department of Education logged a 19% increase in vacant teaching positions from a year earlier. About 11% of teaching positions are vacant in Missouri schools every year.

The shortage affects urban, rural and some suburban schools.

Kansas and Missouri education officials say low salaries don’t help. The state education department says Missouri’s average starting teacher salary is $31,842, while new Kansas teachers earn $34,883.

Ann Jarrett, director of teaching and learning for the Missouri National Education Association, says teachers’ varied skills are in high demand and can land them jobs that pay more.

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