Volusia County School Board members echoed one central message to district staff during their meeting on Tuesday, June 13: Staff our schools.
With the district reporting 340 instructional vacancies, down from the 351 vacancies reported at the May 23 board meeting, staff assured the board that they would be focusing on hiring teachers. The vacancies, which take into account the hiring of 20 international teachers to address the shortage, are down from the 486 vacancies the district reported at this time last year, said Chief Human Resources Officer Mark West.
Still, he acknowledged that 340 was high.
“That is a lot,” West said. “But, we are early in the process. School has just gotten out, and we realize that our principals are now definitely going to be focusing on what we need to do in regard to this.”
Districts 1 and 5 account for the largest share of the vacancies, at 85 and 82, respectively. District 4 — which includes Ormond Beach and Ormond-by-the-Sea — has 47 vacancies, with Tomoka Elementary and the Holly Hill School reporting the highest number, at eight vacancies.
The district also reported 59 instructional vacancies at the district level. But Board Chair Jamie Haynes, who represents District 1, said she didn’t want to see those positions filled until the classroom positions are addressed.
“Our schools come first,” Haynes said. “We can have teachers or people all over the place, but how do you explain to a parent when they come to meet the teacher and there is no teacher?”
Board member Ruben Colon said vacancies seemed most common at schools that had undergone recent leadership changes.
At a May 23 meeting, the district announced 13 principal and 16 assistant principal transfers.
At the June 13 meeting, the board approved nine appointments, including five new principals, one assistant principal and three district directors.
“How many of those folks are leaving because they didn’t fit well with the administrative change?” Colon said.
As for the district instructional vacancies, he suggested the district consider how many positions can be eliminated for now to ensure there are enough teachers in schools.
Deputy Superintendent Rachel Hazel said that teacher transfers don’t typically increase vacancies.
“If a teacher leaves from one school and goes to another school, it creates a vacancy at one (school), but it’s not creating more vacancies,” she said.
As for support positions, the district reported 139 total paraprofessional vacancies, 50 transportation vacancies, 38 extended day enrichment program vacancies, 37 School Way Cafe vacancies and 81 custodial vacancies, for a total of 345 support vacancies.
The district held two job fairs on May 30 and 31, Of the 194 attendees, 108 applied for positions, and the district has 40 requests to hire, West said.
Three more job fairs are scheduled:
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, June 22, at Mainland High School, 1255 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach
- 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, June 27, at University High School, 1000 West Rhode Island Ave., Orange City
- 4-7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 28, at Deltona Middle School, 250 Enterprise Road, Deltona
Whatever the district is doing is not working, Colon said — especially in terms of staffing paraprofessionals.
“This is the fire that’s closest to us,” Colon said. “... We have very little control of certification, of the pipeline in education and the colleges closing down, and so the only thing we have that we can support [teachers] with is the support.”