Schools Superintendent Sandy Strayer said Title II funding can be used for professional development, “so we’re using that to support anyone out there that has a bachelor’s degree that would like to pursue the field of education. We can support them taking coursework or in their taking of the Praxis exam, any kind of support like that. We can use Title II to help people become teachers.”
While the number of vacancies in the division is “ever-changing,” Strayer said “it’s a lot. Pretty much any area you’re interested in, we have an opening.”
Director of Human Resources Christy Landon told the board that, as of last Thursday, “from a licensed staffing standpoint, we’re doing very well at the elementary level. We have only, I believe, one elementary teacher vacancy, and we have a recommendation to fill that.”
However, “at the secondary level, I’m afraid it does not look so good. Both of the middle schools and both of the high schools have quite a few licensed vacancies to fill, and we have quite a few classified positions to fill throughout the district, whether that be bus drivers, cafeteria workers, paraprofessionals, (or) PALS (peer-assisted learning strategies) tutors,” Landon said.
While the state retirement system allows retirees to fill critical shortage positions in K-12 education, Landon explained that it is difficult to find people who meet the specific criteria required by the state, including a minimum 12-month break in service.
“That means in any capacity whatsoever from any VRS (Virginia Retirement System)-covered entity. So, they cannot have worked part-time or even volunteered for a VRS-covered entity for 12-months after retiring. Unfortunately, most people who are willing to come back in a critical shortage aspect have already been substituting or doing some other part-time work because, if they want to continue to work in some capacity, they get back into that as quickly as they can.
“Obviously we are in the great resignation right now,” Landon said of the large numbers of people who have left their jobs during and after the height of the pandemic. “The labor shortages that we are facing are not unique to Henry County Public Schools in any way shape or form. All school divisions are facing it, and all other employers are facing it as well.”
Board member-at-large Cherie Whitlow said “even in transportation, we’re short drivers. You all are probably short of drivers.”
She said the division should prepare parents to expect delays in the coming school year if positions are not filled. “You probably need to be looking at finding a way to get students to school sometimes so there’s no shock factor,” she said.
As of Monday, June 13, the HCPS website listed 67 job openings, some of which have been posted for nearly a year. Martinsville City Public Schools currently lists 45 open positions.
For those who may be interested in working for the division, Landon said, “we can help them get the qualifications that they need. It’s a great place to work.”
Available jobs at HCPS can be found under the Human Resources tab on the Henry County Public Schools’ website, www.henry.k12.va.us.