By Kristin Espeland
Laramie, WY – Late last week a D.C.-based think tank called the Alliance for Excellent Education reported that Wyoming schools lost nearly one thousand teachers last year .half the report said left the profession and half transferred to other schools. Then a Wyoming Department of education spokesman said those numbers were wrong. Spokesman Tim Lockwood says the number of actual vacancies has been going down each year. This year, the department counts a little more than 500 vacancies across the state, down from more than 600, and they're confident they can fill those positions before students return. However, Lockwood says the number of teachers slated to retire over the coming years is projected to far outstrip the supply of newly minted teachers from the University of Wyoming's education program. Lockwood says that, to stem the tide of losses, schools will for the first time this year have access to a state-granted pool of funds to use for new teacher signing bonuses and teacher retention bonuses. Four hundred thousand dollars are available statewide. In addition, Lockwood says the department of education has received funding to help repay school loans for recently graduated teachers who decide to stay in Wyoming.