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'This is going to be a major challenge for this district:' Just one week away from JCPS's first day, about 125 teacher vacancies reported

Supt. Marty Pollio also said the number of vacancies is fluid because about 50 contracts were signed this week, and nearly 50 offers were sent out.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — There are about 300 reported teacher vacancies in Jefferson County Public Schools, according to Superintendent Marty Pollio.

He revealed the number at the board meeting Tuesday night, nearly one week ahead of the first day of school.

However, Pollio said that number is only reported because the district cannot pull jobs off of job boards until hired teachers complete their certification process; he said the true number is closer to 125. 

Pollio also said it’s a fluid number because about 50 contracts were signed this week, and nearly 50 offers were sent out.

“[I'm] confident that we will see a certified teacher in every single classroom.”

In the meantime, Aimee Green-Webb, the district HR chief, said district resource teachers will fill-in.

Green-Webb explained these teachers can only do so for 12 weeks and said there are about 115 available, with some already deployed to schools.

Pollio said every classroom will be covered on the first day of school.

JCPS teachers putting finishing touches on classrooms as first day of school approaches

A new district report shows there were more than 400 teacher resignations during the 2021-22 school year, as of June 30. It’s the highest number reported since the 2016-17 school year.

“Our teachers are telling us, and our school leaders, that last year was even more difficult than those first two years of the pandemic,” Green-Webb said. “In response to that we are, again, examining what’s important to our teachers.”

JCTA President Brent McKim says the biggest reason teachers are leaving is because of behavioral problems.

“Our students, more than ever, deal with trauma outside their school day and they bring a lot of that trauma with them and it expresses itself in ways that lead to, what I call, second-hand trauma for educators in the classroom,” McKim said.

On the other hand, the data also shows the 2021-22 school year saw the highest retention rate, 97.3%, since the 2015-16 school year. It’s a data point the district is proud of.

During the meeting, the principal of Byck Elementary and teachers with the school spoke about what great retention efforts look like up-close. The school was chosen to take part in a pilot program in which different retention efforts were made, such as surveys and action planning.

Protesters push back against JCPS mask policy

According to JCPS data, Byck had a 100% retention rate during the 2021-22 school year.

 Another focal point of the meeting was the lack of educators interested in the field.

The presentation highlighted data showing that fewer educators in Kentucky are enrolling in and completing school compared to a decade ago.

Pollio said the problem isn’t unique to JCPS.

“This is going to be a major challenge for this district and nearly every district in the United States for many years to come,” he said.

JCPS says some of the keys to address this are strengthening educators’ sense of purpose and rewarding and recognizing their work.

The district said it will increase recruitment by fostering relationships with HBCUs, increase recruitment staff and more.

JCPS will host an early childhood job fair Wednesday from noon to 4 p.m. at the Bon Air Louisville Free Public Library.

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