A national teacher shortage has sent school districts spiraling in search for teachers ahead of the new school year. Some school districts were still looking to fill more than one thousand positions inside their schools heading into the new week.
Richmond Public Schools (RPS) saw 25% of their staff leave at the end of the 2021-2022 school year. According to the RPS School Board, 552 out of 2,156 teachers resigned from the district at the end of the 2021-2022 school year.
The district was still facing 176 vacancies just six weeks away from the first day of school. These numbers are very similar to teacher vacancies on a national scale.
A Rand Corp. national survey said about one third of teachers and principals reported they were likely to leave their current job by the end of the year. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) member survey showed the lowest job satisfaction ratings for paraprofessionals and school-related personnel ever recorded and revealed that 79% of teachers said they are dissatisfied with their current overall working conditions.
This dissatisfaction, along with many other factors, have combined to drive out teachers, leaving school districts with vacancies they have to fill. In order to combat the teacher shortage, school districts have begun incentivizing teachers with more pay, shorter work weeks, longer summers, and free grad school tuition.
Dozens of districts have offered $10,000 sign-on bonuses, including Alamance-Burlington in North Carolina and Mount Diablo in California. Clint Independent School District in Texas is giving $10,000 sign on bonuses for special education teachers. Jackson Public Schools in Michigan is giving teachers $10,000 signing bonuses if they sign a three-year contract.
Some school districts have altered the school calendar in order to offer a more appealing work schedule to teachers. Several rural school districts are opting into four-day work weeks to attract more teachers since smaller school districts have more trouble offering financial incentives.
RPS announced if 176 teaching positions are not filled by the start of the school year in August, it will hire substitutes full-time to fill classrooms. The district is relying on a new program offered by Virginia State University that will pay for a graduate student’s tuition if that person is a full-time substitute teacher at a local school.