Teacher shortage forces high schoolers take class online

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (DC News Now) — Hundreds of Chancellor High School students are taking classes online due to Spotsylvania County Public Schools’ teacher shortage.

School Board member Nicole Cole said the shortage is a disadvantage for high schoolers in important core curriculum classes.

“It’s an issue because of the level of course that they’re being taught online,” she said. “These are subjects that are best – especially in high school – that the students have a physical teacher to be able to ask questions and go through problems in person.”

There were 144 teacher vacancies in the last status report Cole received on Aug. 14, though she said that number doesn’t fully illustrate the problem.

Since last Spring, the board has voted to change the professional requirements for dozens of positions in the district. She said that 70 vacant positions no longer require a teacher’s license and unlicensed staff do not count towards the State Board of Education’s Standards of Quality.

“Even though there is a body there, that is still considered a vacancy,” she said.

Though the district issued a statement, it does not address the online courses. The statement read:

Spotsylvania County Public Schools continues to recruit highly qualified staff, and we have strengthened our efforts in growing our own educators and building a pipeline of future teachers. Recently, SCPS was awarded a $200,000 grant from VDOE to implement a nationally registered Teacher Apprenticeship Program which will assist with recruitment, training, and retention of special education teachers. We have hired interim teachers who are enrolled in education programs. These individuals receive mentoring and professional learning, and they participate in college courses that cover topics like classroom and behavior management, assessment, teaching methods, and more. We are excited about continuing to support and grow our interim teachers as they become licensed teachers. Through college and university partnerships, we are connecting with candidates for our ongoing recruitment efforts.

Spotsylvania County Public Schools

Cole said she has asked administrators for a concrete plan to address the teacher shortage.

“They really are doing nothing to be able to attract or retain teachers to Spotsylvania County so we would not have this significant vacancy issue, it’s a problem,” she said. “The fact that the superintendent, Mark Taylor, has not communicated these issues to the entire board.”

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