Virginia’s teacher shortage is fueling big spending on recruitment and retention

But will marketing campaigns and thousands in federal funding be enough to remedy the state’s staffing woes?
Thousands of demonstrators rallied for better teacher pay and more public school funding during...
Thousands of demonstrators rallied for better teacher pay and more public school funding during a January rally at the Capitol. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)
Published: Aug. 9, 2022 at 3:09 PM EDT
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Since mid-July, teacher shortages have dominated discussions among Virginia’s local school boards.

In a meeting last week, Spotsylvania County Superintendent Kelly Guempel described the division’s staffing needs as “severe,” with 114 vacant teaching positions a week before the start of the school year. A few days earlier, Fairfax County Superintendent Michelle Reid informed parents the district was “working hard” to overcome a teacher shortage that’s left roughly 3% of classrooms unstaffed ahead of the fall semester.

In Richmond, Superintendent Jason Kamras described the number of vacancies as the worst he’s seen in nearly 30 years as an educator. As of July 29, the division was still struggling to fill 163 open teaching positions across the city’s elementary, middle and high schools — roughly double the number of vacancies as the previous year. On Monday, Henrico County reported a little more than 211 open teaching positions, and Chesterfield County had 243 vacancies left to fill as of Aug. 4, according to data from the division.

“Given our numbers and Chesterfield’s numbers and Henrico’s, we could be looking at a thousand vacancies just in our region,” Richmond School Board member Elizabeth Doerr said at a meeting last month. “Which is pretty crazy, just to let that sink in.”

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NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news...
NBC12 is a partner with The Virginia Mercury, an independent, nonprofit online news organization covering state government and policy.(Virginia Mercury)

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