PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – The number of vacant teacher positions in Providence has increased over the past two weeks, with 124 jobs still available before the first day of school on Thursday.
Spokeswoman Audrey Lucas said 73 of the 124 vacant positions are classroom teaching positions. Figures do not include vacancies outside the Providence Teachers Union.
Providence scrambled to fill vacancies after 188 teachers resigned or retired in 2021, more than 100 of them leaving the state-run district over the summer. Another 152 teachers resigned or retired during the 2020 calendar year.
There had been 96 teaching positions opened on August 23, the latest figures available before Wednesday, including 58 classroom positions. Acting Superintendent Javier Montañez said at the time that the district would continue to hire teachers until the first day of school and beyond.
But the number of vacant jobs has since increased.
The updated figures contrast with remarks made by Gov. Dan McKee on Tuesday that the number of vacancies has declined.
“As of this morning, I think the superintendent has significantly reduced that gap,” McKee said at his weekly press conference. “Last week… it was about 69 positions that were open. This morning they had already placed, I think, nearly 50 of them.
McKee made the comments after Target 12 released a report Tuesday morning on the teacher shortage in Providence.
As of August 23, vacancies in the classroom spanned the gamut of math, science, ESL and art teachers. Non-classroom vacancies included social workers, counselors, librarians and school nurses, among others.
Of the 73 vacant class positions, Lucas said all but 18 have identified replacements to cover classes when students return for the New Year on Thursday.
McKee currently has authority over public schools in Providence, as the state took control of the district in late 2019. He said he wanted to play a more direct role in overseeing the district, rather than leaving it to the ministry of RI Education.
While the governor downplayed the number of vacancies, he also acknowledged the teacher shortage and called on retired teachers to help fill the vacancies.
“Retired teachers, if you’re looking for a great opportunity to really make a difference – and I believe coming out of COVID and the impact it has had on a lot of us, we’re all looking for a way to make a difference. difference in people’s lives – it’s one way to do it right in the city of Providence, ”McKee said.
He said he signed an executive order allowing retirees to work beyond 90 days without affecting their pension benefits, which Gov. Gina Raimondo also did in an attempt to tackle a shortage of surrogates. earlier in the pandemic. (McKee’s new order was drafted and signed on Wednesday.)
McKee also said other incentives will be announced. No details were provided as on Wednesday evening.
Teacher vacancies are not a new issue in Providence, nor are they the highest number of classroom jobs unfilled at the start of the school year. In 2019, there were 102 vacant class spaces at the start of the year, Lucas said, while 2020 fared better with 22 vacant class spaces.
One of the stated goals of the state’s five-year recovery plan is to increase the number of fully staffed classrooms at the start of the year from 95.5% (2019 baseline) to 98 % by 2025.
Steph machado (firstname.lastname@example.org) covers Providence, Politics and more for WPRI 12. Connect with her on Twitter and on Facebook