RPS dealing with teacher shortage as first day of school looms

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — With most school systems opening in just a couple of weeks there are still dozens of teacher openings to fill. As of Tuesday evening, Chesterfield County has 28 openings, Henrico has 36, Petersburg has 34 and Hanover has five. But in the City of Richmond, the shortage of teachers is far worse.

It’s a problem officials say Richmond Public Schools run into every year; a high number of openings right before the school year.

“Our numbers are looking a lot better this year than they have in the past, but we are still, as of yesterday, down 76 teachers,” school board member Kim Gray told 8News Reporter Mark Tenia.

Gray says they’re aggressively advertising positions and contacting candidates. The board has even hired a contractor, PCG, to help recruit people who can temporarily fill positions until someone can be permanently hired.

“They bring in qualified, experienced teachers who aren’t licensed particularly in Virginia but do have experience,” Gray said.

Gray says the school system has had a hard time retaining teachers.

“We have high poverty in our schools. We have a lot of challenges,” Gray added. “Our students come to school with many traumas and they act out on those traumas so we have a hard time retaining teacher especially in our highest poverty schools.”

She says that they need to start looking at better ways to attract teachers in the future and assess their success so quality teachers are rewarded, which she believes will ultimately help kids in the classroom.

“All the studies show that the number one weapon in the arsenal for educating students in high poverty areas is having a highly qualified teacher in front of the classroom and having consistency,” Gray said.

Gray says they have the greatest number of openings in the east and south side schools. She also says that special education openings far outnumber any other position. They’re hoping to have a large number of the openings filled by the start of the school year.Stay with 8News for updates to this developing story. Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.

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