Eastern Shore of Virginia public schools begin without enough teachers

EASTERN SHORE POST/ADOLPHUS AMES Northampton teacher Chase Baxa loads the potato launcher.

BY CLARA VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post —

With schools opening Tuesday, Sept. 5, Accomack and Northampton counties still had 14 teacher vacancies to fill.

As of Monday, Aug. 28, Accomack County’s school system was working to fill seven teacher vacancies in its 11 schools. Northampton’s system had seven teacher positions open in its four schools.

Last year, the two school systems had 19 teaching vacancies to fill less than two weeks before students arrived.

“We’re doing a little bit better than last year,” said Amber Johnson, human resources assistant at Northampton County Public Schools.

“The schools are being very creative” when it comes to filling teacher vacancies, said Accomack County Public Schools superintendent Rhonda Hall.

Both counties budgeted an average raise of 7% over last year for full-time staff, according to their financial officers. For Accomack County, the starting salary for a teacher with a bachelor’s degree is $48,000. In Northampton, teacher salaries start at $47,098.

In Accomack schools, retired teachers are serving as long-term substitute teachers, Hall said.

Some teachers have taken on extra instructional time in return for more compensation, she said.

“They give up their planning (blocks). That helps us to compensate for not having an English teacher or a math teacher,” she said.

Accomack has continued to hire staff from Jamaica, Columbia, the Philippines, and other countries through organizations that vet international instructors, helping to fill classrooms, Hall said.

The school system was still interviewing applicants to fill its remaining openings Monday, Aug. 28.
Northampton County offers incentives such as recruitment bonuses to help attract teachers, Johnson said.

The school system is creating a ride-share program for teachers living in Hampton Roads and has a shared housing guide to help teachers looking for affordable accommodation, she said.

In addition to teachers, both school systems continue to seek bus drivers for the 2023-2024 school year.

“We have the announcement that stays out there for bus drivers,” Hall said, adding that Accomack schools hired some drivers this summer.

The county is continuing to use tiered bus runs to help address the shortage in drivers, she said, but added, “we could use more.”

“At any school, you’re always going to have these recurring things that are hard to fill,” Johnson said, naming bus drivers and speech pathologists as examples.

“We are just glad to be able to fill our classrooms,” Hall said.

Visit https://accomack.tedk12.com/hire/Index.aspx to view Accomack County school vacancies for teachers and other positions.

Visit https://www.ncpsk12.com/page/hr to see openings at Northampton County schools.

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