Dozens of teaching jobs still vacant across Hampton Roads as school starts next week

Posted at 3:18 PM, Aug 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-28 17:21:08-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Across Hampton Roads, the pressure is on for school districts to find teachers to lead your child’s classroom.

Local officials said "it’s all hands on deck" right now.

Several cities have at least 20 teacher positions available, just a week before your child hops off the bus into a new year.

“It’s a nationwide issue, and what we’re finding in reports is the top two reasons for the shortage is number one - a lack of funding and number two is a lack of preparation,” Director of Human Resources with Chesapeake Public School Sherry Agnew Wilson explained. “They’re coming in, sometimes, without student teaching.”

School leaders say one of the biggest problem areas is elementary education.

Chesapeake school officials say they welcomed more than 300 new teachers this year.

“We did have quite a few vacancies to fill this year. That’s mostly in the area of math, also career and technical education as well as special education,” Agnew Wilson said.

Because of this growing issue, many districts have come up with various recruiting methods to lure in new, qualified teachers.

“We offer many incentives here in Portsmouth,” Jessica Duren, a Human Resources Senior Supervisor with Portsmouth Public Schools, said. “We offer an advance pay of up to $1,000, we offer relocation for people who move from out of state as well.”

“We’re even making phone calls to retired educators so that we can possibly convince them to come back,” Agnew Wilson said.

Though the districts are actively looking, if full-time teachers aren’t hired, substitute teachers will temporarily cover the rooms.

“We do offer a pretty robust training for our substitute teachers and so they are qualified to be in the classrooms,” Duren explained.

Here is a breakdown of the current number of vacancies locally, according to school officials:

  • Virginia Beach: 36
  • Portsmouth: 31
  • Suffolk: 20
  • Chesapeake: 20
  • Hampton: 7

News 3 has not gotten numbers from Norfolk or Newport News school divisions.

Senator Tim Kaine recently introduced a new bill to help combat the growing teacher, and principal, shortage.

It's called Preparing and Retaining Education Professionals (PREP) Act.

You can read it here.