RSS starts the school year with 70 teacher vacancies

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, August 23, 2016

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — It’s one week until school starts, and the Rowan-Salisbury School System has more than 70 vacancies for certified teachers.

The Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education spent some time at its Monday business meeting discussing the issue.

The board previously voted to hire a teacher recruiter, as well as to hire 15 teachers through the visiting international faculty program to help fill hard-to-recruit-for positions.

Monday, Executive Director of Human Resources Kristi Rhone and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Dr. Julie Morrow said that as of Aug. 16, the system had vacancies for nine science teachers and seven math teachers.

According to the school system’s advertised openings, there are 87 vacancies for certified staff, total — including central office staff positions, assistant principals and principals.

However, Rhone said that math and science positions are notoriously hard to fill, and at least one position in the system has been vacant for more than one school year.

Rhone and Morrow informed the board that they planned to start a committee to help brainstorm creative staffing solutions.

“Just know that we won’t stop there, we’ll begin there,” Rhone said.

Superintendent Dr. Lynn Moody added that staff were going to “play with a few things” in the coming school year, which could include the launch of non-traditional pilot models — such as a single teacher and a “virtual coach” teaming up to tackle two full-sized classrooms.

The board debated the model for some time, but Moody clarified that, should the system launch such a program it would be in one or two classrooms, at most.

“We want to be sure that we’re just putting our toe in the water right now,” she said.

In other business the board:

  • Discussed logistics for career-oriented academies at each high school. This year South Rowan High School and West Rowan High School will see “soft rollouts” of a communications academy and a hospitality and farm-to-table academy, respectively.
  • Discussed eliminating certain student fees for the 2017-18 school year.
  • Heard the final numbers for the system’s Summer Feeding Program. This year between June 13 and Aug. 17, the program provided 135,999 meals — breakfast and lunch — to Rowan County children between the ages of 3 and 18.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.