Indiana education officials aren’t waiting for the legislature to ramp up efforts to keep teachers in the classroom and attract more to the profession.

Today, state Superintendent Glenda Ritz and the Indiana Department of Education announced new initiatives focused on curbing teacher shortages that have affected districts across the state, particularly those in struggling urban and rural areas. The ideas came out of a state panel that met several times over the summer.

Last year, some districts reported problems hiring teachers, especially in subjects like special education, math, science and foreign languages, but bills designed to address the problem failed to get enough support in the legislature. A measure that was successful, backed by House Speaker Brian Bosma, creates a scholarship program for aspiring teachers.

“While the state legislature and Governor Pence failed to move forward meaningful legislation to address Indiana’s teacher shortage, I am expanding our efforts at the Department of Education to ensure that all Hoosier students receive a high-quality education – and that begins with high-quality teachers,” Ritz said.

The state created an Indiana Center on Teacher Quality at Indiana University, which will specifically take on hiring challenges in special education jobs, Ritz said. The department will also hire a full-time director to focus exclusively on teacher recruitment and retention issues.

The work is being supported by a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Ritz proposed several teacher recruitment and retention plans during last year’s legislative session, but the bills didn’t make it through. She said she’d bring the ideas back for consideration in 2017.

To learn more about teacher shortages and recruitment efforts across the state, check out the following Chalkbeat stories: