(WKBN) — The country is experiencing a teacher shortage, and some think the demand for teachers will continue increasing. Several schools in the Valley are staffed for this coming school year but they’re worried about filling other positions.

The demand for teachers has been an adjustment for some Valley schools. Finding people qualified for the job has been difficult, and some districts are still looking to fill other positions too.

The Economic Policy Institute expects a demand for at least 300,000 teachers by 2024.

Four local superintendents spoke about the teacher shortage and said the number of applicants is shrinking.

“We’ve gone from like 60 to 80 applicants down to like 20 and 30 in a poll now,” said Poland Superintendent Craig Hockenberry.

“Teachers will make a change from one district to another district, still opening up a gap somewhere else,” said Columbiana Exempted Village Schools Superintendent Don Mook.

Weathersfield Superintendent Damon Dohar said the job demands are more than what some expect.

“I think one of the problems that we’ve always run into is everyone’s gone to school but just because you’ve gone to school doesn’t mean you could teach school,” said Dohar.

Struthers Superintendent Pete Pirone said another big need is substitute teachers.

“So you’re able to fill those positions with people that just are permanent subs that come report to our district every day,” said Pirone.

All four superintendents have similar thoughts on how to stop the shortage: the perception around teaching jobs needs to change.

“The negative coverage on public education has been terrible. It’s difficult for young people to choose to go into a career they’re seeing advertised as a negative place to be,” said Mook.

“We get an opportunity to be a positive effect on many students’ lives for all the lives of people and that’s a great, great and powerful thing,” said Dohar.

Hockenberry said showing people the profession will also help, and he firmly believes the shortage will end.

“Having teaching classes where kids can explore that as a career opportunity, whether it’s at the career center or whether it’s at our schools, to really get people excited about that career,” said Hockenberry.

The superintendents also talked about the need for bus drivers and custodians. This was a problem last year too. You can inquire about those jobs on each district’s website.