County needs more than 90 teachers
Special ed, math, science in highest demand
With less than three weeks until the start of school, Charles County is still looking to fill more than 90 teacher positions.
Pamela Murphy, executive director of human resources, told the Charles County Board of Education that as of Tuesday afternoon, 94 positions remained unfilled.
In a report to the board, Murphy said that number was slightly higher (8 percent) over the same time last year.
Murphy said the shortage is largely due to a national teacher shortage.
The most in-demand positions are special education, mathematics and science teachers, Murphy
said, adding that mirrors national demands as well.
“It’s not just us, it’s nationwide,” Murphy said. “Every single state reports math, science and special education vacancies.”
Murphy said fewer and fewer students appear to be entering the teaching profession, which leads to a glut in demand.
“Recent data supplied by the Department of Education reports that between 2009 and 2014, [there was] a decrease of 35 percent in the number of students entering education as a major,” Murphy said. “The teacher surplus is just not there anymore.”
Murphy said the lack of autonomy and increased testing are leading many students to look elsewhere for careers.
“They say they can’t be creative in the classroom anymore,” Murphy said.
In addition, Murphy said Maryland imports more teachers than it produces, and that many teachers, after a few years’ experience, leave Charles County to be closer to family.
School board member Margaret Marshall said that an increasing number of teachers are also leaving for other counties in Maryland.
“Many of those who go to Calvert or St. Mary’s do so because they live there; for whatever reason, they’ve chosen to buy a home and that’s why they’re going there,” Murphy said. “Some move to counties further north; those are the ones who have come here from Pennsylvania, so they move to be closer to family.”
According to Murphy’s report, Prince George’s County currently reports 230 vacancies; Calvert and St. Mary’s counties report 15 and 10 vacancies, respectively.
New teacher orientation is scheduled to begin Monday. School system spokeswoman Katie O’Malley-Simpson said a mid-year orientation will be held for teachers hired after next week’s orientation.
Last year, the school system began the school year with 25 unfilled positions.
“We still have three more weeks, and we have long-term subs who are willing to step in,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the school system has been working to stay in contact with graduates interested in becoming teachers to return to Charles County.
“We’re hoping to create that pipeline and connect with those students throughout the years,” Murphy said.
Murphy said her office is working on other initiatives to improve teacher recruitment and retention as well.
Tuesday’s meeting, the first of the new school year, also included an update on school facilities, the Capital Improvement Program Master Plan and a report on the findings of a state commission evaluating student assessments.
During the public comment phase, eight people spoke out against the school system policy of allowing transgender students to use the bathroom and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity, which is in line with recent federal guidelines.
Board members have requested that the item be brought before the board at a future date.
“All I want is an opportunity to discuss the policy and a vote on whether or not to implement the policy, and then the community will know which board members want the policy, and which ones don’t, and which board members are simply implementing out of a human nature to simply let it ride,” said Christopher Ogne, pastor of The Lutheran Church of Our Savior in Br yans Road.
Seven people, including private bus company owners, spoke out in favor of the current school system policy of contracting out bus services, and many requested being part of an upcoming evaluation of the current system.
One person spoke out in favor of improving salary and benefits for bus drivers.