Published Online: July 10, 2014

Jackson schools face 200 teacher vacancies

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Jackson Public School District may turn to retired or substitute teachers to fill in if current vacancies are not filled for this upcoming year.

Jackson Schools Human Resources Director Carol Dorsey tells The Clarion-Ledger (http://on.thecl.com/1naeO77 ) there are currently 218 open positions for certified teachers, guidance counselors and interventionists as of Tuesday. Jackson Public Schools employs about 2,000 teachers.

Dorsey said in the past in Jackson Public Schools, vacancy numbers have been even higher at this time of year.

"If I had five vacancies today, I could have five recommendations (of candidates) on their way to me. It's really a process," she said.

Dorsey said applicants must go through several interviews, be approved by officials, pass a background check and have their educator licenses verified.

There's also a lag in the summers because contracts for principals, who are involved in hiring, end in mid-June and don't start up again until July.

If all spots aren't filled, students start the school year off with a retired certified teacher or a substitute teacher, she said.

Dorsey said last year about five to 10 retired certified teachers had to fill in, and though she didn't know the exact number of substitute teachers, she said it was "higher than normal."

"It's not unusual for districts to find themselves still looking for teachers, particularly in the areas that have a real shortage of folks certified to teach in certain areas," said Nancy Loome, executive director of The Parents' Campaign, an education organization that tracks and provides parents with information about legislation affecting public schools.

"There's also an incentive for teachers to move to higher performing districts," Loome said, pointing to the teacher pay raise bill passed this legislative session as one example of that.

Beginning with the 2016-17 school year, teachers and staff who work in schools with "A'' or "B'' accountability ratings will receive financial awards.

Jackson Public Schools is rated "D."

The starting salary for a first-year teacher in Jackson is around $34,000, said Dorsey. In nearby Rankin County, the starting salary is $34,890.

Four other districts in the state — Kemper County, West Bolivar, Durant and Forrest County Agricultural — have higher vacancy rates, according to the most recent data available from the Mississippi Department of Education's website. Districts are not required to post vacancies on the site, so the data is not representative of all districts.

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Information from: The Clarion-Ledger, http://www.clarionledger.com


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