Maury County Public Schools has excess funds amid staff shortage

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.

More:‘The well is very dry’: Maury County teacher shortage leads to inadequate staffing, ‘mass’ instruction

Chelsea Abreu leads a her kindergarten class at Randolph Howell Elementary for during its end of year weeklong Jurassic Park celebration at Randolph Howell Elementary School on Friday, May 17, 2019.

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.

More:‘Bleeding out’: Maury County Schools struggle to fill special education positions

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.

More:‘A very difficult situation’: Maury County Public Schools struggles to staff its transportation department

Students at Columbia Central High School are dismissed early as a flood warning was issued for portions of southern Middle Tennessee on Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2019.

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.

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