ST. CLOUD -- The Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) announced last week school boards across the state are facing teacher shortages.

Kirk Schneidawind of the MSBA says the shortage is one of the biggest issues facing school boards not only in Minnesota but also in neighboring states, and it needs to be confronted in the near future.

"This is not going to be a simple, one-time legislative solution fix," Schneidawind says. "We need to get the ball rolling and make sure we have highly-qualified and effective classroom teachers in front of our public school students."

"If we don't start addressing some of the issues that we're seeing especially in special ed, science, [and] mathematics ... we will continue to see a bigger problem for our school boards in terms of hiring."

Schneidawind says many factors could be the cause of the shortage including the effect No Child Left Behind had on public schools, high student loan debt for students coming out of college and the average starting salary for teachers.

"In the past, many of our districts would have up to 80 [teachers] apply for an elementary position, and now we're seeing five to 15 applicants," Schneidawind says.

"It's not that the teachers aren't there, it's that the districts want to have a deep pool from which to choose because they know research shows that teachers have the most impact on a student's achievement."

Schneidawind says one way to help address the problem is to encourage young people who are entering college to opt for a career in education.

"One of the pieces we have in our bill is loan forgiveness options to provide incentives for [students] to go into teaching," Schneidawind says. "We're hopeful that there are some steps we can take now to try to increase the flow into the teaching field."