Scott County is not experiencing much of a teacher shortage, but that’s not true for substitutes and bus drivers, said Billy Parker, assistant superintendent of operations, including human resources director for the school system.
Earlier this year, Kentucky Commissioner of Education Wayne Lewis warned of an impending statewide teacher shortage that would leave thousands of instructional vacancies.
“We are feeling it, but we’re not feeling it,” Parker said about a teacher shortage. Scott County currently has three vacancies, one due to a mid-year retirement, one due to the teacher resigning to take a position elsewhere and the third is a new position recently created, Parker said.
“Filling super specific positions can be challenging,” he said. “But overall, we are not experiencing a teacher shortage.”
This despite the fact that some 210 new teaching positions have been created over the past two years in Scott County schools due to growth and the opening of two new schools.
“When I started we had 1,160 full-time teaching positions,” Parker said. “Now, we have 1,374. In two years we have grown over 210 jobs.”
At a board of directors meeting for the Kentucky Association of School Administrators, Parker said the topic of a teacher shortage came up with a group that included a cross-section of the state.
“While having vacancies that cannot be filled at all, do not seem to be commonplace, having qualified applicants for vacancies is a huge issue,” he said. “Through emergency certification vacancies are able to be filled, but the concern are the gaps that may exist with what the emergency certified applicant brings to the table.
“Communities that border other states have the challenge of competing with the retirement benefits and sometimes the pay of those other states.”
Finding substitute teachers has become a bigger problem, he said.
“We have a problem in Scott County — actually it’s a good problem — that most other communities do not have,” Parker said. “Our really good substitutes, we usually lose them to full-time positions within the district. That’s a good thing, but it’s a bad thing.
“There are days when we struggle to fill all the substitute positions. Mondays and Fridays are always a struggle.”
Scott County’s schools typically do not have teacher training sessions during the school day, but it is not unusual for the state to play a training session during the week. On Sept. 12, a state training session was held and the school system experienced a need for 111 absences, but 96 were filled, Parker said. On Sept. 13, a Friday, the school system had 44 vacancies, but could only fill 33, he said.
“We can always use more substitutes,” he said. “But there’s ebb and flow. It doesn’t feel any different this year than any previous year.”
The need for substitutes is so great, the school system sometimes holds weekly sessions to meet with candidates. Currently, those sessions are being held every other week because of the lack of applicants.
“Substituting is not for everybody,” Parker said. “But we have some people who really latch onto it. We’re not feeling the squeeze like some smaller districts, but we’re feeling it.”
Hiring school bus drivers may be the greatest challenge, Parker said.
“We’re being super creative serving the need we have,” he said. “We have plenty of buses if we had the drivers.”
It is not unusual for the school district’s mechanics and others to drive buses in emergency situations.
“We’ve been fortunate, though,” Parker said. “We haven’t been hit as hard as other school districts.”
Anyone interested in applying for a position with Scott County Schools should visit its website at www.scott.k12.ky.us and follow directions under the tab “Employment.”
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.