PRICE COUNTY - A pair of Northwoods school districts could start the year without teachers to lead certain classes. Teacher shortages have left some districts looking for options to provide a full education.
"It's very hard to find top quality teachers anymore," said Prentice District Administrator Randy Bergman.
Bergman knows that's nothing new in his Prentice School District.
"At one time when I had applications for elementary I had 125 sitting on my desk and now I might have six," said Bergman.
The District Administrator says the lack of applicants left his district with just one candidate for mathematics this year. But Prentice isn't the only school district finding it difficult to get new teachers.
"We knew heading into this it was going to be hard to find a replacement," said Phillips School Superintendent Rick Morgan.
Morgan says his students will be without a world language teacher, after the previous teacher took another job.
"They're going to receive that curriculum a little bit differently," said Morgan.
Phillips students will take foreign language classes through the Rural Virtual Academy. It's an online-based program that the Prentice school district also uses.
"It's our only option," said Morgan.
An option that both districts agree isn't ideal.
"Live, face-to-face, right in the classroom," said Morgan. "That's the design I think everyone would agree would be best."
"I think they need that time to socialize and problem solve with other people during the school day," said Bergman.
Bergman believes the shortage is an issue affecting states beyond Wisconsin, and that overall, teachers need more support.
"Their profession is very worthy," said Bergman. "Without teachers where would we be in this county? I think they feel like that's not a part of them anymore and we need to bring that back."
Morgan says retired German and Spanish teachers still living in the area plan to visit the Phillips schools during the week to help students with virtual classes.
The district hopes to have a foreign language teacher hired for the 2019 - 2020 school year.