by Guy Page
Teacher recruitment has become an additional challenge during the pandemic, with several hundred openings state-wide across many subject areas and grade levels, according to the 802 Ed Newsletter, a publication of Vermont’s associations for principals, superintendents, and school board members, as well as state and national education agencies.
The reasons for teacher shortages are many and complicated, according to studies linked in the 802 Ed newsletter. Two facts, however, do stand out out: the national shortages are worst in difficult-to-find subject areas such as math and special education, and Vermont does not pay more to teachers in shortage areas.
The statewide need for substitute coverage seems to be increasing, in some cases with school leaders filling in where needed, such as lunch duty, hallway supervision, and even making sure that the lawn is mowed. Other states are seeing similar challenges, 802 Ed said.
In Vermont the number of job openings for substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, and other staff has topped the 500 mark. In fact, the current rate is showing an increase of about 6 job openings per day over the past two weeks, which suggests that the market for substitutes is getting even more difficult for schools. The law of supply and demand seems to be kicking in – Spaulding High School in Barre is offering $25/hour for licensed substitutes, more than twice the minimum wage.
With some 1800 open positions in Vermont’s schools, there are sometimes unusual opportunities. For example, the Vermont School Boards Association recently posted a position opening for Director of Education Services, to design and deliver workshops throughout the year for school board members across the state, 802 Ed said.
The school worker shortage is taking place even as an unprecedented number of parents take their children out of the public schools and opt for home-schooling instead.
Except for last year, when most of the school buildings were closed, home-schooling is at an all-time high. As of 10/21/2021 there are 3643 home school enrollments received, Agency of Education Secretary Dan French told Vermont Daily Chronicle last week. As of 10/21/2020 there were 4972 enrollments received with a 2020-2021 School Year total 5504. In previous years, home-schooling enrollment fluctuated around 2000.
Public school enrollment figures will not be available until some time this winter.
This news story includes content published in the 802 Ed Newsletter.