78 teachers hired this year for Shenandoah County schools

“Teacher shortages is a critical conversation,” Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Raley told School Board members on Thursday.

The district hired 116 new employees this fall, with 78 of those being teachers.

“Thirty-two of leaving staff are teachers with 11-20 years experience,” Raley said.

He said 81 percent of those positions have been filled with teachers who have only a few years of experience.

“We didn’t have as much a robust sample as we’ve had in the past,” Raley added. “We aren’t casting a very large net.”

During the meeting, Raley went over challenges in filling positions, which include late vacancies, hard to fill positions, changes in leadership, and a limited candidate pool.

“It’s a tough job,” Raley said about the work teachers do.

Class size is also a major concern as teachers feel overwhelmed by the growing number of students added to their classes.

“My personal goal is to build capacity within our school district,” Raley said.

But with all the challenges that schools face in filling these open positions, the county has filled all but one vacancy – a position for an early childhood special education teacher.

In 2015, there were 132 certified staff vacancies and 131 were filled in the last year.

In addition, there were eight support staff positions that have all been filled.

In total, 186 positions were filled for instructional and support staff in 2015.

In comparison to the national turnover rate of 20 percent, Shenandoah County has a turnover rate of 14 percent.

Also at Thursday’s meeting:

• The board approved the policy review of the Sex Offender Registry Notification, which states that at the beginning of each school year the school division must notify parents and employees of the policy.

• The board learned that 146 new radios were installed in all school buses and maintenance vehicles.

• It was noted that the facility space evaluation on overcoming the overcrowding issues in the county schools has reached the data analysis phase and a report and recommendation will be given Oct. 8.

• A Signal Knob Recreation Center update was given that suggested the swim team move to another facility in response to safety concerns.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com