County needs more than 90 teach­ers

Spe­cial ed, math, sci­ence in high­est de­mand

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

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.

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