RPS looks to fill staffing shortage gap as school starts

Three days into the new school year RPS is still short 115 teachers.
A few days into the new school year, Richmond Public Schools is still short 115 teachers.
Published: Aug. 23, 2023 at 4:37 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - School just started, and already Richmond Public Schools is facing challenges.

Three days into the new school year, RPS is still short 115 teachers.

Superintendent Jason Kamras says they are facing a staffing shortage. He says the classroom teacher is the most vital position, and now they are offering incentives to get them back inside the classroom.

“We’re just trying to get down to zero,” Kamras said.

He says the start of the school year has been relatively smooth, with some bumps in the road, but the biggest hurdle to overcome is the lack of staffing.

“We’re offering $4,000 for any new teacher coming to RPS,” Kamras said. “On top of that, there is a bonus if you go to a high needs school, another $4,000. We have a relocation bonus as well and a bonus if you’re bilingual.”

Kamras said those incentives are up to $12,000 to get licensed teachers in the classroom and about half of that for support staff.

“The biggest area that we are focusing on is classroom teachers,” he said. “We have about 115 vacancies there, but every one of those classrooms is filled by a long-term sub or one of the candidates in our grow our own teacher program, so every class is covered.”

The school division must also fill about 170 other positions, including counselors, social workers, librarians, coaches and other support staff. RPS was able to fill 422 vacancies over the summer.

“We are offering our full schedule,” Kamras said. “We haven’t had to cut any classes because of vacancies.”

Kamras also hopes to have all vacancies filled in the next few weeks.

“We’re going to continue to make sure the experience of teaching at RPS is a positive and rewarding and supportive one so that folks stay at RPS for the long haul,” Kamras said.

If you want to learn more about those incentives or wish to become a teacher, click here.