Date: 2021-11-21 12:01:38
Maury County Public Schools has more viable funds than it did this time last year.
With the district’s pockets $7 million deeper than this same time last year, the excess funds come at a heavy cost to the local public school district and its students.
“We are looking good but that is because we are barely getting by,” said Doug Lukonen, director of finance for the school district and the local county government, during the school board work session.
MCPS continues to have more than 57 vacant positions for licensed educators and 42 for classified employees.
Open positions range from bus drivers and educational assistants to a contracted math interventionist, a speech and language pathologist and classroom teachers.
There are currently no vacant administrative positions.
The school district has had a long-running struggle with filling vacancies that has only amplified amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The resulting teacher shortage continues to create additional strains for educators, students and their parents. In order to draw interested candidates, the school board has offered sign-on bonuses and increased pay for some positions.
MCPS is not alone with the ongoing problem. Neighboring Williamson County also has more than 60 unfilled vacancies.
“There is a shortage everywhere,” said Eric Perryman, school district assistant superintendent of facilities, regarding the low number of available bus drivers.
Perryman emphasized that the issue will likely continue into the coming years with more than 15 of the department’s current drivers retiring at the end of the year.
A study from the Learning Policy Institute, an independent education policy organization funded by the San Francisco-based Sandler Foundation, found that the demand for educators continues to increase, while the supply of new potential candidates continues to dwindle.
Between 2009 and 2014, the institute found that teacher education enrollments dropped 35% from 691,000 to 451,000, representing a decrease of almost 240,000 professionals entering the classroom in the year 2014 compared to 2009.
In June, a survey of 2,690 members of the National Education Association, 32% said the pandemic drove them to plan to leave the profession earlier than expected.
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