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Schools see teaching vacancies

With the end of the 2016-17 school year approaching, divisions across the area are experiencing varying degrees of vacancies of staff — primarily for teachers.

Prince Edward County Public Schools has 16 teaching vacancies, eight of which are for the high school, two of which span from fifth to 12th grade, two that span from fifth to eighth grade, three middle school positions and one elementary school position.

“There’s always the possibility (the vacancies) will increase,” Division Director of Human Resources Freda Reid cited.

Dr. Barbara Johnson

Employee turnover is part of an ongoing trend for the division’s schools. According to budget documents from the March 16 joint board of supervisors and school board budget meeting, the division saw 41 teachers leave following the 2015-16 school year.

Division Superintendent Dr. Barbara Johnson spoke during the March meeting regarding teacher turnover.

Johnson said, on average, over the last 10 years, the school division has seen a turnover from 32 to 45 teachers annually.

“We are in a region where we cannot necessarily pay the highest salaries,” Johnson told school board members and county supervisors during the meeting. “Teachers can go to Henrico and Chesterfield and make considerably more.”

Clarifying, Johnson said some teachers aren’t leaving because of the money.

“Some are leaving because they’re brand new and they didn’t know what to expect, and so they figured out teaching was not for them,” Johnson said.

She said some were departing because of retirement and others were leaving because their spouse had accepted a job somewhere else.

Dr. Elizabeth Jamerson, the director of human resources for Cumberland County Public Schools, said the number of teaching vacancies vary from year to year.

“Last year, the division hired 13 new teachers for the 2016-17 school year,” she said. “The year before that, the division hired 14 new teachers. Currently, we anticipate 14 new teachers for 2017-18. Some of these positions have been filled.”

Cumberland is advertising for 11 teaching positions. Of those positions, three are for elementary teachers, one is for an elementary paraprofessional, two middle school math teachers, one high school chemistry teacher, one Algebra I teacher, a JROTC senior instructor, an agriculture teacher and one part-time English language learning teacher.

“The current pay scale, particularly for teachers, has resulted in some teachers — particularly those in hard-to-staff areas — seeking employment elsewhere,” Jamerson said. “Hard-to-staff areas include math, science and special education, and the division must compete with other counties for teachers in these areas.”

Jamerson said teachers in those subject areas often apply to more affluent counties where they can make more money.

Currently, Buckingham County Public Schools, according to Director of Human Resources Brian Agee Green, has four teaching vacancies, one vacancy for principal — at Buckingham County Middle School — and one vacancy for secretary.

Green said the openings were about average for this time of year.

“Every year it seems we face sudden vacancies in June or July,” Green said.

Green said the division filled two other teaching vacancies in the past week and two in the past month.

Lunenburg County Public Schools are looking at possible vacancies for secondary science, secondary math, social studies, career and technical education, special education and elementary education teachers.

Charlotte County Public Schools is currently looking at three teacher openings. The openings include an elementary teacher, a GED/alternative education teacher and a special education teacher.

Division Superintendent Dr. Nancy Leonard said this number was a normal amount of vacancies for the school division.