RPS leaders working to fill vacancies ahead of school year

The clock is ticking for Richmond Public Schools to make a slew of hires ahead of the start of the school year.
Published: Aug. 1, 2022 at 2:20 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2022 at 2:40 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The clock is ticking for Richmond Public Schools to make a slew of hires ahead of the start of the school year.

“If we’re unable to procure substitutes, that classrooms have to be split and that teachers have to assume even more responsibilities and take on additional students. So yeah, are we concerned? Absolutely,” said Jonathan Young, Richmond School Board.

RPS leaders say they’ve made great strides to fill vacancies across the division, hiring 46 teachers over the last two weeks. But still, RPS is short 163 teachers, along with 80 other positions.

That includes bus drivers, cafeteria staff, custodians, nurses and social workers, and those vacancies account for about a quarter of the division’s workforce.

“We’re preparing for all scenarios at this point. I’m still optimistic that we’re going to get those numbers down before the start of school. We’re continuing to go 200 miles per hour in terms of recruitment,” said Sarah Abubaker, Richmond Public Schools spokesperson.

RPS is offering thousands in sign-on bonuses for those moving from at least 50 miles away and if they have experience. The division has expanded the recruitment search to states like North Carolina, Maryland and Washington, D.C.

“To have 25.6% of our teachers call it quits is a damning indictment of Richmond Public Schools. There’s no way around it,” said Young.

Monday night, the superintendent will present the vacancy report to the school board and discuss how they plan to make many more hires before the start of school. Young says double-digit vacancies at some schools mean principals should be evaluated as well as how they manage.

“I’m sorry, but it’s just true. People don’t quit jobs. They quit managers,” said Young.

The superintendent also wants to create a task force to make teaching easier in the city. Students return to Richmond on Aug. 29.

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