There isn’t much that warrants a summary or my two cents here, but I will revisit a few issues I raised during the Board Reports.
Teacher Retention and Recruitment
I mentioned that I would like to see something like the COVID dashboard relating to teacher and staff shortages. Or, at least, at every school board meeting, I would like an update on vacancies, openings, how many vacancies we have filled since the last meeting, and the projected numbers of vacancies for the beginning of the school year. I realize that the Richland One website provides some very general information about job openings. But those numbers are easy to misconstrue. For example, there might be 105 teacher openings, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that there are 105 teacher vacancies since some teachers may still be teaching until we find someone to take their place. I continue to hear pretty dire predictions from principals and teachers about next year and would like us to begin focusing more attention on that. Providing data like this at every board meeting would elevate the priority status of this work and would also provide important updates about the biggest challenge in front of us.
Compensating Teachers for Planning Periods
I indicated at the meeting that I have increasingly heard from principals that they are being forced to take teacher planning periods away to address the staffing shortage. I asked the administration whether it would be possible to compensate teachers for these lost planning periods. The superintendent indicated that this was on the administration’s radar, and he planned to address this issue. I was happy to hear that they were already thinking about this and am hopeful they will find a way to make this happen.
Opening School Board Meetings
I, again, raised the issue of allowing the public to attend school board meetings. If I haven’t been clear, I absolutely support all measures we are taking to keep our students, teachers, and staff safe. However, I (and some of the teachers from whom I have heard) find it striking that schools can be open, sporting events are happening, even field trips (albeit small ones) are occurring and yet we aren’t allowing the public to attend our meetings. That doesn’t make any sense to me.