ANNAPOLIS – With most Maryland schools a week into their 2004-2005 school year, several hundred teaching positions remain open statewide.
While the Maryland Teacher Staffing Report released by the State Board of Education this past August reported shortages in all 24 counties, representatives from more rural state counties deny staffing difficulties.
But the larger school districts confirm teacher shortages, particularly in critical specialties.
Prince George’s County hired more than 900 teachers for the coming school year, but is still experiencing deficiencies.
“Like all school systems we are experiencing a shortage in certain skill areas,” said Howard Burnett, the district’s chief administrator.
More than 200 retired teachers are substituting to fill voids. And despite heavy recruiting efforts nationwide, some mathematics classes will be taught through television. While a math class is being conducted, it will simultaneously be taped and broadcast live into neighboring classrooms, Burnett said.
Mathematics is one of seven subjects named by the Maryland Staffing Report as a critical shortage area, or area most in need of certified teachers. Others include career and technology education, computer science, English as a second language, foreign language, science, and special education.
One hundred and seventy-five vacancies remain in Baltimore City schools, and 45 of those are in special education, according to a recent Channel 13, WJZ broadcast. Baltimore City schools did not return phone calls for comment on teacher shortages.
Baltimore schools’ recruitment efforts began last October, Human Resources Director Bill Bolden told the station. By placing ads, rehiring teachers, and college recruiting, some positions were filled.
Rural school districts tell a different story.
Anna-Maria Halstead, Carroll County schools’ recruitment coordinator, said the county has not experienced staffing problems since she started working there four years ago.
“We are very pleased and in good shape for this school year,” said Kevin Michael, Calvert County schools personnel director. Michaels says a part-time special education teacher is the only open position.
Garrett and Allegany counties also reported no staffing problems.
Maryland makes efforts to certify its own education students and recruits nationwide.
The Maryland Teacher Staffing Report began in response to 1984 legislation establishing tuition assistance for Maryland college students preparing to teach in critical shortage areas. Teacher shortages may be the result of a decline in last year’s hiring – a dip attributed to better teacher retention, budget constraints and other issues. In 2003-2004, 20 percent fewer teachers were hired than in the preceding year. An annual increase in hiring is expected for several more years.