Colorado lawmakers hope to lure teachers to rural districts

By Erica Meltzer

CHALKBEAT

The downside of living in Campo is that it’s 70 miles to Walmart and 20 miles to the nearest grocery store. The upside is that there’s no traffic.

“I try to tell people, it’s a relaxing drive,” said Nikki Johnson, the superintendent of the 37-student Campo school district in Colorado’s southeasternmost corner, who will be looking for a new secondary math teacher for the fall.

Rural superintendents like Johnson could soon have a more compelling pitch for job candidates who are on the fence: up to $25,000 in student loan forgiveness for teachers who take hard-to-fill positions in remote districts.

The educator loan forgiveness bill, sponsored by state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, is the most generous among Colorado legislation this year that aim to address a teacher shortage that is particularly acute in rural areas and fields like math and special education.

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