Following the same, disappointing path as last year, Richmond Public Schools (RPS) is scrambling and sounding the alarm as they are grossly understaffed going into the 2018-2019 school year. Just under one month before students will start filling classrooms around Richmond, RPS has nearly 100 vacancies in staffing, 85 of which are for teaching positions, as told by NBC 12.
After a work session last night for the Richmond School Board, one representative even said that in order to fill the positions, “we may have to beg.”
This time last year, 109 teaching positions were vacant across the division, the Richmond Times-Dispatch (RTD) reported, with around 56 vacancies remaining when the school year began. Many of the positions went unfilled because calls and emails were never returned to prospective teachers, showing an definite element of mismanagement within the city’s school system.
Many are claiming that long-term substitutes are the answer, as well as two classes combining as one under a single teacher. The division could alter its student-teacher ratio in the affected schools, but that could have a negative impact on student education in a school system that already struggles with accreditation for numerous schools.
Currently, only 19 of the division’s 44 schools are fully accredited. Commenting on the “mood” of RPS, 6th District School Board Representative Felicia Cosby said, “We still grapple with a culture of low expectations,” RTD reports. Superintendent Jason Kamras has promised that every school in the district will meet the state’s full standards for accreditation within the next five years, but beginning the school year off missing a large number of teachers is not a great start.
The teacher shortage, however, is not a problem across the board. At least 53 of the vacancies are at elementary schools. One of the schools hit hardest is Carver Elementary.
Five teachers resigned this week after a Virginia Department of Education investigation concluded that state-mandated Standards of Learning (SOL) test scores at the once-underperforming Carver were inflated due to a system in which teachers inappropriately helped students pass.
The public is still reeling for the scandal in which people were outrage that the school board would allow teachers to resign over being fired. The Richmond School Board also accepted the resignation of the principal at the center of a cheating ring, Kiwana Yates, on Monday.
Nevertheless, at least one dozen schools will begin the year with no vacancies.
For the daunting task of hiring teachers and staff, 1st District School Board Representative Elizabeth Doerr says, “I’m excited about it.”
“Obviously it’s a lofty goal,” she added. “I don’t want to sacrifice quantity for quality, but if there’s something we can do, I’m all ears.”
Officials say that are looking at bringing former teachers out of retirement at schools where there is a critical shortage, meaning math and science positions on the middle school level.
“Retirees, that’s excellent because they bring a wealth of knowledge and information and God bless them for going back,” interim 7th District School Board Representative Cheryl Burke said.
This would be great, apart from the fact that many RPS teachers retired because of the woeful management of the system. From crumbling buildings, to lack of funding, to overcrowding, to shortage of bathroom supplies, shortage of school supplies, aging books, low pay, 1970s era technology, mold infestations, asbestos hazards, and a myriad of other problems a modern school system does not have to deal with, it is no surprise that RPS enters yet another year with a massive teacher shortage.
“I suggest we do reach out to Henrico, Chesterfield, Powhatan, Goochland, and if there’s anything I can do as a board person, I gladly will. Our children need these certified teachers, so we just have to beg,” Burke added.
Just remember, beggars cannot be choosers.