RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond Public Schools is sounding the alarm over being understaffed.
The school district needs more teachers, and fast.
The start of the school year is only a month away and right now, RPS said there are nearly 100 vacancies that need to be filled before students return Sept. 4. Of those vacancies, 85 are for teachers.
One board member wasn't above floating the idea that, "we may have to beg."
"I've seen where they have had long term substitutes and they've also had teachers who have had to combine two classes at one time," said parent Mariah White.
White is vocal about school system issues, because her two sons attend Carver Elementary.
"That puts more on the teacher," White said. "The teachers are underpaid and Carver was understaffed last year."
That could be the case again. More than half of the vacancies - 53 - are at elementary schools, including some positions at Carver.
But it's not a sad song across the board. There are a dozen schools that will start the year with no vacancies. Whether that can be made the case at every Richmond school in just a matter of weeks remains to be seen.
"Obviously it's a lofty goal. I'm excited about it," board member Elizabeth Doerr said. "I don't want to sacrifice quantity for quality, but if there's something we can do, I'm all ears."
District leaders say they can bring back retired teachers to the classroom at schools where there's a critical shortage. In this case, that means math and science positions on the secondary level.
"Retirees, that's excellent because they bring a wealth of knowledge and information and God bless them for going back," board member Cheryl Burke said. "I suggest we do reach out to Henrico, Chesterfield, Powhatan, Goochland, and if there's anything I can do as a board person, I gladly will. Our children need these certified teachers, so we just have to beg."
RPS is looking for 17 Spanish-speaking staff members to meet the growing number of students who don't speak English as their first language. The district says some of the advertised vacancies may be in the process of being filled, but the numbers still offer a "ballpark" of a need to act fast.
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