Teacher Staffing Crisis Discussed

SALISBURY – Wicomico’s superintendent says the use of recruitment programs and the adoption of negotiated agreements have allowed the school system to maintain an adequate level of staffing, despite reports of a growing teacher shortage.

Earlier this month, Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin presented the Wicomico County Board of Education with an update on recruitment and retention efforts within Wicomico County Public Schools (WCPS).

“There’s a lot in the media right now about the teacher crisis, the staffing crisis,” she said, “and I thought it would be helpful to speak to that specifically where Wicomico County is concerned.”

Hanlin noted that each year WCPS loses between 100 and 140 teachers to retirement, transfers, or simply individuals leaving the profession. But despite reports of a growing teacher shortage, she told officials the school system is estimated to have lost 100 teachers this school year.

“We feel fortunately we have been able to retain teachers to about the same degree we have in previous years,” she said.

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Hanlin told board members, however, officials are seeing a shortage in the supply of teachers coming to WCPS from local universities. She said critical shortage areas include special education, mathematics, and elementary education.

To that end, Hanlin said the school system is working with local colleges to encourage individuals to join the teaching profession through programs such as dual enrollment. WCPS has also introduced a Teacher Academy of Maryland program within its schools, allowing students the opportunity to explore careers as an elementary, middle or high school teacher.

“We have a lot of efforts going into this,” she said. “But I wanted to clarify we do not have teachers leaving the profession in Wicomico County to any greater degree than we ever have before.”

As efforts continue to recruit individuals to the profession, Hanlin said work is also being done to retain the school system’s existing educators.

At Tuesday’s meeting, for example, the board of education voted to approve negotiated agreements for teachers, administrative staff and classified employees that include salary increases and a cost-of-living adjustment.

“I know the 1,300 teachers and roughly 800 support staff and all employees thank you for your commitment as shown by these negotiated agreements, as we gave probably the largest cost-of-living adjustment we’ve ever given here in Wicomico County,” said Human Resources Director Vince Pavic. “It’s put us in the rare area of being one of the higher paid on the Eastern Shore.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.