Less than 50 teacher positions remain unfilled
Number almost half that at same time last year
Less than 50 teaching positions remain to be filled almost a month before the start of school, according to information provided by the Charles County Public Schools’ Human Resources department.
Amy Hollstein, deputy superintendent, reported that 49 position remained to be filled during Tuesday’s school board meeting, the first of the 2017-18 school year. At the same time last year, 94 positions were still unfilled.
Hollstein said a Teacher Job Fair is scheduled for Friday.
“Right now we are tr ying to fill our classrooms and they are doing whatever it takes to get qualified, compassionate teachers in all of our classrooms who are ready to make a difference,” Hollstein said of the HR department.
Human resources specialist Jeremy Campbell said traditionally, the school system has focused its hiring efforts on the summer but has moved to a year-round model to hire winter college graduates to fill positions currently held by long-term substitute teachers.
“Hiring season is no longer just a season, it’s yearround,” Campbell said. “So we’ve changed our approach a little bit differently as to how and when we hire.”
As a result, the number of teachers recruited in 2017 is 240, compared with 145 for this time last year.
“The key is to follow up,” Hollstein said. “That personal contact, that telephone call, it has to be done. We have to be the best, because teachers have choices now. We are the ones wooing them, that is the thing that has changed.”
Hollstein said the school system is also working to improve the workload on special education teachers, always an area of critical need, and to expand opportunities for high school students to begin teaching instruction through the Teacher Academy of Maryland program.
“We need to get them into a real classroom, so hopefully they will fall in love with the profession and come back to us,” Hollstein said.
Superintendent Kimberly Hill and the school board also signed a new contract with the Education Association of Charles County, the local union for teachers and other certificated staff members. The contract was approved by the school board and the EACC membership in June and includes one STEP/level increase for qualified employees.
“Negotiations for salary are tough when there is a limited amount of funds from the county commissioners with which to work, and I am sure that the board and the EACC will continue to work collaboratively and creatively so that our certificated employees will continue to move towards recouping the two pay level increases they are missing,” said EACC President Linda McLaughlin, referring to two “skipped” pay level increases in Fiscal Years 2011 and 2015.
Hollstein also announced the transition of the school system’s online data management system, from Edine to Synergy.
Hollstein said Synergy is “an all-encompassing student information system”; staff have been trained on the new system, and it will soon be open to custodial parents, who must show identification to access the key that allows them to register, but parents with children in multiple schools will only need to register once.
“This new system will provide parents with three key benefits, including secure online access to their children’s grades, assignments and attendance, email and text alerts of absences and grade average changes and a two-way communications tool for parents and teachers,” Hill said.
Hollstein said a new Superintendent’s Rule requires teachers to input grades within two weeks, and principals will get an email notification if a teacher has not accessed the system within the past 10 days.
Michael Heim, assistant superintendent of supporting services, also provided an update on summer construction and maintenance projects.
“The summer’s a very busy time in supporting services,” Heim said. “The reality is, that’s one of the busiest times for us, because we have the ability to take advantage of buildings being mostly vacant.”
Steven Andritz, direction of planning and construction, said Dr. Samuel Mudd staff have completed moving into the new transition school, located on John Hanson Drive beteween J.P. Ryon Elementary and John Hanson Middle schools.
The U-shaped transition school has a full gymnasium/cafeteria with a fully functioning kitchen and a new playground.
Renovations at Mudd are expected to take two years. Andritz said that when Mudd renovations are complete, Eva Turner Elementary School students and staff will move into the transition school while renovations are completed on their facility.
Other summer projects include the beginning of construction on the new Billingsley Elementary School, set to open in the fall of 2018, resurfacing the track at Henry Lackey High School, repairs to the Westlake High School tennis court, ramp repairs to portable classrooms at Berry Elementary School and exterior painting at various schools.