MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - As the spring and summer months approach, school systems across the country are tasked with assessing what their teacher unit needs are and then filling the vacancies.
John Johnston is the human resources director for Montgomery Public Schools, and he said the system is one of many experiencing a shortage of teachers.
“We could have over 100 vacancies moving into next year,” Johnston said. “We currently have around 20 due to retirements, resignations and other factors.”
He said the Alabama Department of Education informs each system how many units they should have based on their enrollment numbers.
Cheryl Fountain, the principal of Capitol Heights Middle School, said she currently has three vacant teacher units at her school and expects to have a large, final number next week.
“The teachers play a huge role in their students’ lives,” Fountain said. “They impact students every single day, and the impact they make will last their whole lives.”
When schools experience vacant teaching units, they implement long-term substitute teachers until they can find permanent replacements.
MPS currently has about 20 on staff.
According to the Alabama Department of Education, most of the systems in the state that reported their numbers to the department showed some sort of teacher shortage with an expectation to have a shortage in the next school year. The state’s greatest teacher need is in math, science and special education.
Johnston said MPS has a similar subject area need, and it also greatly needs teachers for 6th grade to 12th grade. He admitted for the first time, the system is starting to see a shortage in elementary school teachers as well.
Fountain said she believes a major reason for the shortage is the pay.
“I think people think of the monetary component,” Fountain said. "They also forget that there are a number of opportunities to grow ans build a career.
Both Fountain and Johnston reached their current positions after climbing from other education positions.
On April 19, MPS will hold a job fair to recruit teachers. The fair will last from 9-12, and all of the MPS principals will be in attendance, taking resumes and conducting interviews.
“It’s possible candidates could be hired on the spot pending board approval,” Johnston said. “It’s a great opportunity for teachers to meet with principals all in one location. We also encourage people who are interested in getting into education, who have a bachelor’s degree, to come. The state allows opportunities for people who are not education to move into education. They have a program.”