ARCADIA, Wis. (WEAU) -- It may soon be easier to become a licensed teacher in Wisconsin.
The Department of Public Instruction says it's considering a set of rules that would add flexibility to teacher licensing.
It hopes the rules would help offset staffing shortages.
The Arcadia School District often has trouble finding new teachers.
"In the past, like for an elementary position we'd have between 150 and 200 applicants, now we're probably 15," said Louie Ferguson, Superintendent of the Arcadia School District.
Because of situations like that across the state, the Department of Public Instruction is looking to add rules that would make it easier to obtain a teaching license.
For example, the rules would allow teachers who are at least 55 years old to apply for a license without having professional development requirements.
They would also increase the number of days a short-term substitute could teach a class from 20 to 45 days.
And they would expand options for emergency licenses.
These guidelines were established as emergency rules last fall, but the Department of Public Instruction is considering making them permanent.
The Arcadia school district says that these rules can be especially important in rural areas where some districts have a hard time keeping teachers from flocking to other cities.
"People are very happy working here, like the students, like the facilities, but it's that when they're not working they're wanting to have some opportunities to some things with peers and so forth," said Ferguson.
But even the School District of La Crosse, in a much bigger city, has put some of those rules to use this year.
"Flexibility with subs and being considered a long term sub at 45 days as opposed to 20 days we've had a couple situations where that has benefited the district," said Mark White, Director of Human Resources at the School District of La Crosse. "And then we also had one person with an emergency license."
Both Ferguson and White think these rules could help get more teachers into the classroom.
"Keeping people in longer, making it a little bit easier for them to get in, in this time of shortage especially in some particular areas that we have it would be very beneficial," said White.
"I think anything that you put in place is going to help; I don't think any one thing is going help it," said Ferguson.
The Department of Public Instruction is holding a public hearing on these rules from 2:30 to 4 p.m. at the DPI’s headquarters, GEF 3, Room P41, 125 South Webster Street, Madison.
People can also email or mail their opinions to firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to Carl Bryan, budget and policy analyst and administrative rules coordinator, DPI, 125 South Webster Street, P.O. Box 7841, Madison, WI 53707-7841.