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West Iron officials worried about counselor opening

IRON RIVER—Like many other school districts in this region, West Iron County has to scramble when it needs to fill important positions in its staff.
    It’s happening again. Superintendent Chris Thomson told the school board at its Jan. 21 meeting that its middle school-high school guidance counselor, Megan Nyberg, is leaving to take a new position.
    Nyberg is resigning effective March 1 to take a position with the Dickinson-Iron Intermediate School District. Thomson said he would meet with Mike Berutti, middle school-high school principal, on how best to fill the job through the end of the school year.
    During a later interview, Thomson said there is a critical shortage in many education positions: “Guidance counselors, special ed teachers, math-science teachers, physical education teachers and elementary teachers.”
    In his 20 years in school administration, “That’s the biggest change in my job: We’re dealing with a lot more what-ifs.” In the past, he said, there used to be many applicants for school positions. Not anymore.
    “And this is not just West Iron. A lot of districts are short of teachers or are really struggling to find teachers in certain core areas.” With teachers hired during the 1990s starting to retire, filling those vacancies in a more competitive hiring environment is a challenge.
    “The last two times we looked for guidance counselors,” Thomson said at the meeting, “we’ve only had one applicant.” In the end, the district asked Chris Harrington, who had retired, to come back part-time.
    The task now is to identify the right person for the position – and come up with a fallback plan in case that person can’t be found.

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