INDIANAPOLIS – A new Indiana law allows K-12 schools to hire full or part-time adjunct teachers.

House Enrolled Act 1251 allows school districts to grant adjunct teaching permits to prospective instructors.

The law requires adjunct teachers to have at least four years of experience in the subject they want to teach.
They must also be mentored by another teacher.

According to the Indiana Department of Education, more than 2,200 teacher positions are open statewide as of Tuesday.

School officials across Indiana say a dwindling number of candidates are applying to open jobs.

“Recently we had a search for an elementary school principal, and we had about 38 applicants for the job, for a position that we would probably typically get, five years ago, 75 to 80 applicants,” said Patrick Spray, superintendent of Clark-Pleasant Community Schools.

Supporters of the new law say it’s another option to get some open positions filled.

“What we hear from administrators is we need tools, we need options, we need flexibility,” said Tim McRoberts, associate executive director of the Indiana Association of School Principals.

Though several school officials say they have no plans to hire adjunct teachers, some acknowledge it may be an option for positions that are harder to fill.

For example, at Hamilton Heights School Corporation, Superintendent Derek Arrowood is trying to find a teacher for its new welding program.

“There’s not a lot of welding instructors out there, but there are a lot of people who know how to weld who can teach kids how to weld,” Arrowood said.

The Indiana State Teachers Association has concerns – adjunct teachers won’t be part of the collective bargaining agreement. The union is also worried about the quality of instructors that may be hired.

“What we need in order to get more educators in classrooms is to raise the pay and have good benefits and good working conditions for folks,” said ISTA Vice President Jennifer Smith-Margraf.

The law goes into effect July 1. It does not allow adjunct teachers for special education.

A spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Education points out that adjunct teaching permits are issued by school districts, so the state is not involved in those decisions.