ANNAPOLIS – Garrett County Public Schools seem to be unique statewide: All the system’s teachers are certified and there are no vacancies.
That’s not the case in most Maryland school systems, which already have begun fall classes, and where a teacher shortage, particularly in certain subjects, persists.
Prince George’s County, the state’s second-largest school district, still needed 60 teachers as of Thursday, its personnel chief said. Many other systems are hiring not-yet-certified teachers to fill their teaching positions.
“The real problem in Maryland is we don’t have enough people going into the profession to begin with,” said Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education.
“We’ve had sort of a flattening of kids going into teaching Maryland, and we’ve never had enough to begin with,” he said.
A survey recently conducted by the state board found critical shortages of certified teachers in career and technology education, computer science, English for speakers of other languages, math, chemistry, physics and special education.
The survey also found teaching staffs in all 24 Maryland school systems are not as diverse as they should be: There are not enough males or minority groups represented in public school classrooms.
While most state school systems have filled all teaching positions by now, many have been forced to use uncertified teachers for some positions.
In many school systems, Reinhard said, positions are filled by provisional teachers — those who may have some form of certification, but not the required one, or who are missing a course or required state test.
Maryland is competing with other states with better pay and importing teachers from West Virginia, Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Montgomery County is using about 100 provisional teachers in its 191 schools and among its roughly 11,000 teachers, said Thelma Monk, director of staffing.
Prince George’s County has joined other organizations, such as the state board, to help teachers with alternate routes to certification, said Howard Burnett, the county school system’s human resources chief administrator.
“We’re recognizing the strength in our pool,” said Burnett. “We’ve managed well in a system this large.”
The Prince George’s system has 192 schools, about 137,000 students and more than 9,000 teachers.
Smaller school systems like Harford and Garrett counties, seem to be making out better than their larger counterparts.
Harford has just two vacant positions among its almost 3,000 teachers, and those are filled by long-term substitutes. Candidates also are available to fill them, said Don Morrison, public information director for that county’s schools.
Garrett County is unique, said system finance and personnel director Ervin Fink, because of its completely certified teaching staff in its 15 schools and among its 400 teachers.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” Fink said.
Monk, of Montgomery County, advises those considering applying for teaching positions to avoid self assessment.
“We’re willing to work with our candidates,” she said. “This is education we’re talking about. This is children we’re talking about.”
— Capital News Service reporter Carla Correa contributed to this story.