A week after going silent on the number of vacancies at schools in the city of Lynchburg, administrators have clarified the exact number of vacancies they face as the first day of school approaches.
As of Monday, the school system had 35 vacancies out of its 687 teaching positions, a vacancy rate of 5%, according to Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Strategic Planning Reid Wodicka.
LCS currently has 14 openings in primary education; eight college vacancies; nine vacancies in high school; two openings at Fort Hill Community School; and two additional openings in the regional LAUREL program.
On transportation, Wodicka said the division is considering filling 14 more bus driver positions, but he said all current routes are covered.
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The school system is looking for additional drivers to maintain flexibility in case bus drivers get sick, the assistant superintendent said.
Since last week’s press conference, the school system has updated its hiring portal — which showed more than 250 openings at the time — to reflect just over 150 openings Tuesday morning.
Like last week, Superintendent Crystal Edwards noted that those positions include coaching, substitute and other construction staff positions, some of which aren’t as necessary as teachers.
Edwards noted that LCS isn’t the only school system facing the problem, citing nationwide staffing issues in education.
“We are seeing a shortage of teachers,” Edwards said. “What that meant to us was ‘all on deck’.”
In order for positions to be filled, the superintendent said the school system was hiring candidates “almost around the clock.”
With 35 teaching positions open as Aug. 16 approaches, Edwards did not call the efforts “last minute,” saying officials have been holding job fairs since March to recruit new teachers into the system. .
“What you see is simply the result of a shortage of educators. It’s not just about teachers anymore; you see it with teaching assistants and substitutes,” Edwards said.
As summer draws to a close, administrators are prepared with several options to ensure no loss in education quality, even when considering allowing teachers or students to change schools.
Edwards said in some situations schools may have four teachers when only three are needed due to enrollment. She said a teacher could then move to another grade level where there is a shortage, or even to a new school in the same grade level.
For students, Edwards said if the school could manage with transportation and parents, children could enroll in a school that is not in their traditional attendance area, as “a more efficient and productive use of our resources”.
She said that later parents could choose to send their children back to their normal school.
Edwards said these measures are all part of the school system’s efforts to maintain the quality of education amid the shortage.
The school system is also pushing its annual registration day, which will take place from 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Walt Ford, LCS community relations coordinator, said in an email that as of July 27, the system has 7,622 K-12 students enrolled and 237 students enrolled in its virtual academy.
To learn more about Registration Day, visit LCSEdu.net/parents/registration-information.