RICHMOND, Va., -- Of the 97 vacancies currently listed at Richmond Public Schools, 85 of those are teaching positions left empty just weeks before the first day of school on September 4.
Richmond Schools Chief of Staff Michelle Hudacsko presented the data to the school board during a Monday evening meeting.
"No school has no more than 10 [vacancies] and we are specifically working with those that have slightly higher vacancies," Hudacsko said.
The schools with some of the highest vacancies are Broad Rock Elementary and George Wythe High with eight. Boushall Middle, Huguenot High, Carver Elementary, Greene Elementary all have seven staff vacancies.
However, Hudacsko confirmed Carver Elementary's numbers do not include the group of teachers who Superintendent Jason Kamras publicly said will not be working for Richmond Public Schools by the start of the new school year following a SOL cheating scandal.
That scandal came to light through a 34-page investigative report by the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). The report confirmed allegations that numerous teachers had cheated their students by helping them correct wrong answers on their state SOL exams.
"The adults who orchestrated the systemic cheating violated a sacred trust with our students and our families," Kamras told members of the media before a meeting with Carver parents on August 1. "I want to assure the public that the individuals involved will be held accountable. Pending board approval, no one who was involved with the scandal will be employed by Richmond Public Schools when the school year begins."
Kamras also ensured the public that, pending state approval, the teachers involved in the scandal would have their Virginia teaching and administrative licenses revoked.
Hudacsko said that process could take months.
The current staff vacancies were recorded Friday morning, according to Hudacsko.
Mariah White, a Carver Elementary parent of two boys and school mentor, spoke at Monday's school board meeting.
"It’s hurting the kids to have to go through this, but they’ll bounce back and are resilient," White said.
White said she still did not know who her son's teachers would be when Carver reopened September 4. She said Carver's interim principal told parents that the vacancies would be filled by the start of the school year.
The need for STEM teachers
Hudascko told the Richmond School Board that there was a "critical shortage" among math and science teachers on the secondary level.
She explained that a critical shortage occurs when there are less than three qualified candidates for a certain position. This now allows Richmond Schools to hire retired teachers for a one-year period to fill the position.
Ultimately, the school system would prefer to fill current vacancies with candidates looking for long-term employment.
"We don’t have a specific preference for new teachers versus more tenured teachers. We are of course looking for licensed teachers," Hudascko explained.
The goal is to have a permanent teacher in every classroom by the start of the school year.
"We are further ahead than we were at this point last year and are confident we will hit 100 percent on September 4," Hudascko said.