Division seeks to address teacher shortage, plans to be presented to school board – The Suffolk News-Herald
Suffolk Public Schools officials plan to address the division’s teacher shortage as the new school year approaches at the school board’s business session on Thursday.
As of Aug. 5, the school division had 106 teaching vacancies, including 47 in elementary schools, 17 in middle schools and 42 in high schools, according to a teaching document prepared for the meeting. The teacher shortage problem is not unique to Suffolk, as local, state and national school divisions are also working to address it.
And while hiring continues, the division has prioritized how it will mitigate vacancies once the school year begins Sept. 6.
Currently, the division’s plans indicate it can fill 26 of 47 elementary school vacancies through a combination of condensed classrooms (nine) and long-term substitutes (17), leaving 21 vacancies.
At the college level, it can reduce six of the 17 vacancies through condensed classrooms and three more with long-term replacements and another four using its virtual platform.
Of the 42 high school vacancies, it currently plans to fill six through long-term replacements, 12 by having a sixth block class and another 14 using its virtual platform, leaving 10 class positions unfilled. .
His first choice at all levels is to make condensing classrooms to mitigate vacancies the priority. His second choice in elementary and middle school is to use long-term substitutes, and adding a sixth-block class in high school.
Its third priority at the elementary level is to use a hybrid synchronization teacher and learning facilitator, and to use the division’s virtual platform for middle and high school vacancies.
Then, in elementary school, he would use the virtual platform, and in middle and high school, he would use a hybrid synchronization teacher and a learning facilitator.
The Head of Schools, Dr Stenette Byrd III, is expected to outline the division’s approach to addressing teacher shortages. Among the strategies, he increased teacher compensation from 7.46% to 8.26% and that of support staff from 5% to 5.5%. Bus drivers also received a 5.84% increase, with their minimum wage rising to $15.30 an hour.
Superintendent Dr. John B. Gordon III said the increases were necessary to be competitive in compensation with neighboring school divisions in order to retain staff and attract new people to the division. The teacher pay scale increased by about $3,000 at the bottom of the scale, from $46,350 to $49,316. At the higher end of the scale for more experienced teachers, it increased by about $5,000, from $77,641 to $82,609.
The division also plans to provide additional pay for extra duties, as well as classroom instructional support in schools with high numbers of long-term substitute teachers, additional support for students, and to take a strategic approach to staffing.
Some of these student supports include high school and college level intervention support staff, virtual facilitators, after-school tutoring for high school students, continuing the SPS Saturday Academy, implementing a Virtual Virginia study skills block for SPS Online students with disabilities and using university instructors as tutors.
This school year, 220 students are enrolled in SPS Online – 78 for primary, 85 for middle school and 57 for high school.
Gordon said in June that the division would continue to offer staff bonuses for new hires ($250) and hard-to-fill positions in areas such as math and special education ($2,000) and said that it would expand its reach to find new employees.
The SPS Strategic Plan will also be on the agenda of the working sessions, and among the items on the regular meeting agenda is a recap of the SPS Summer Series.
The full agenda for the August 11 Board meeting is available at https://suffolk.ic-board.com/public_agendaview.aspx?mtgId=521. The working session begins at 5:00 p.m. and the regular meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. at Col. Fred Cherry.