Bill introduced to help retain teachers

Published 10:28 pm Friday, August 24, 2018

As of Aug. 20, Suffolk Public Schools still has 20 teacher vacancies for the upcoming school year.

But Sen. Tim Kaine has introduced a bill to address teacher and principal shortages across the state and the country.

Kaine has introduced the Preparing and Retaining Professionals Act, which will help ensure there are enough teachers and principals to educate students.


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“At the start of every school year, we see the same headlines about exploding class sizes and districts facing unfillable openings,” Kaine said in a press release. “Teacher shortages plague the whole country, and are worst in our rural communities, but it’s a problem we can solve. When teachers and principals have the tools they need to succeed, they are more likely to stay in their roles. This bill will help us tackle this issue in Virginia and across the country,”

The new bill would widen the scope of a “high need” school division in the Every Student Needs Success Act.

Currently, a high need district is defined by a number of factors, including unfilled teacher positions, percentage of students below the poverty line, high turnover rate and high percentage of unlicensed teachers.

The bill would put emphasis on shortages within English and STEM courses, and the bill also encourages community partnerships.

Last year, then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe had to implement an emergency regulation, ordering the Virginia Board of Education to instruct state public colleges and universities to start offering undergraduate students the opportunity to major in education because of a vast teacher shortage across the state, according to the press release.

Suffolk Public Schools has been working hard to fill the empty classrooms in all of its schools and has made significant improvements since July 31 when the division had 44 unfilled positions.

They will continue to attempt to fill the remaining spots before school begins in September.

“For any not filled in the next two weeks, the school year will start with qualified long-term substitute teachers in those classrooms,” spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said.