Amid teacher shortage, Montgomery Co. Public Schools says school system is 98% staffed

Three weeks before the start of the school year, Montgomery County principals say they are still looking to fill hundreds of vacancies, from full-time teachers to support workers and bus drivers.

Three weeks before the start of the school year, school leaders in Montgomery County, Maryland, say they are still looking to fill hundreds of vacancies, from full-time teachers to support workers and bus drivers.

Three weeks before the start of the school year, school leaders in Montgomery County, Maryland, say they are still looking to fill hundreds of vacancies, from full-time teachers to support workers and bus drivers.

But even with the vacancies, MCPS Schools CEO Monifa McKnight said the school system is 98% staffed and “getting closer to 100% every day,” and she promised every class would have a teacher at the start. of the school year. 29.



“We are committed to having a qualified adult in each class with our students – or a substitute teacher if we cannot fill the position on the first day,” McKnight said at a press conference Monday to discuss recruitment efforts. and fill vacancies.

By the numbers

As of this week, there are 246 full-time teaching positions, with 89 teacher candidates pending approval who are likely to be hired, McKnight said. This leaves another 157 teaching positions to be filled, as well as 59 part-time teaching positions.

About two and a half weeks ago, the number of open positions was 396, McKnight said, adding that the school system is reducing the number of open positions each day.

There are also 450 support service positions open, which include para-educators, office workers and building services staff. There are currently 83 candidates in the queue, leaving 367 positions still to be filled.

There are 50 openings for bus drivers, with 34 applicants in the process, leaving 16 vacancies. Last year at this time, there were 100 vacancies for bus drivers in total, McKnight said.

Overall, the top needs are special education teachers, followed by elementary school teachers and school psychologists, said Travis Wiebe, director of human capital management for MCPS.

The school system is still looking to hire about 30 school psychologists, officials told OMCP.

McKnight touted the school system as a great place to work, pointing to an average teacher starting salary of $62,000 and professional development opportunities for all staff members.

MCPS employs more than 24,500 employees, making it one of the largest employers in the state.

Monday’s briefing came amid a discussion of a nationwide shortage of teachers and other jobs in schools, more than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This year, like previous years, we had many vacancies,” McKnight said. “However, this year we faced a particularly difficult challenge of seeking more vacancies in a very, very competitive environment.”

The union responds

With the school system in the midst of a hiring drive, holding job fairs at Montgomery College and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, McKnight said classroom staffing plans for the first day of The school year will draw on the school system’s cadre of 3,500 substitute teachers, many of whom are retirees.

Jennifer Martin, president of the Montgomery County Education Association, which represents teachers, told OMCP she doubts the school system will be able to fill all of its vacancies.

“If history is any indicator, what will happen once again is that the existing workforce will have to take on the tasks that would have fallen to the people they hired, had they been able to find them. “, she told WTOP.

Martin did not attend McKnight’s briefing. Subsequently, the MCEA issued a lengthy statement, saying the union is “pleased” that MCPS is stepping up its hiring efforts, but that the union has been sounding the alarm “for many months that the exodus of teachers and other staff poses challenges for staffing in 2022. -School year 2023.

The statement went on to say that MCPS leaders dismissed concerns raised by teachers about workload and burnout in the past.

“The growing tension and exhaustion among those who remain will make it difficult to provide the excellent education our students deserve,” the statement said.

The union is currently in negotiations with the school system on specific areas and will enter full contract talks later this year, and Martin said she remains hopeful of resetting the relationship with school system leaders thanks in part to new leaders joining the superintendent’s staff, including a new chief operating officer and new director of studies.

Kate Ryan of WTOP contributed to this report.

Jeremy S. McLain