How Bad Are Virginia Public Schools’ Personnel Shortages?

by James C. Sherlock

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) maintains a job board for itself and for school districts seeking personnel of all sorts. It shows about 1,6oo openings, but some of the postings are more than two years old. And the real number is somewhere around 7,000.

It is useless.

Apparently VDOE, in its striving under the whip hand of the Governor and General Assembly to regulate and oversee the minute details of school division compliance with massive changes to laws, lacks the personnel or inclination to keep its own job board up to date. Embarrassing.

So, VDOE may have no estimate what the shortages will be next month.  If it does, it is not sharing.

The current signs are not good.

How many vacancies and what types? today has 6,850 Virginia K-12 school jobs in its listings. By cross checking school division job boards, that appears to be close to an actual number. I was unable to break out how many of those were teaching positions. If it is slightly more than half, which is a conservative estimate, that represents 3,500 open teaching jobs.

That figure does not include principals, APs, and special staff such as counselors, nurses, psychologists, social workers, cafeteria workers, security personnel, tech staff, bus drivers, cleaning staff and others required to keep the doors open.

A shortage of bus drivers for the more than 15,000 school buses operated by the commonwealth’s school divisions can be predicted with confidence in the current labor market.

Lack of drivers can shut down or cause major interruptions in entire districts.

Teacher shortages. Only 32 of those vacancies statewide on are advertised as work from home. Apparently,those jobs, however many there may be, have been scooped up by incumbents. Except in Richmond.

RPS advertises eight vacancies for virtual teachers among nearly 250 vacancies total. Sort the RPS job board various ways and you will find interesting information.

Check your local school district job board, if they have one, for the current actual vacancies in your area.

We don’t currently know how many of the teachers currently on staff will insist on “accommodations” for teaching from home for such conditions as refusing to get vaccinated.

Once school starts, school divisions are charged to report actual numbers. The last consolidated report of school divisions before COVID is here.

That VDOE report listed 1,063 teaching vacancies, nearly half in special education (243) and elementary education PreK-6 (241) combined. Shortages of secondary school math teachers (80) and school psychologists (36) were notable relative to total demand.

But there are more than 100,000 teachers in Virginia Public schools, so the teacher shortages statewide as a whole hovered at 1% before COVID and before the last two General Assembly sessions legislated the rapid radicalization of Virginia K-12 education.

We don’t know if the next survey will break out in-school teachers and virtual teachers separately.

However, the first survey 2021-22 survey is structured, we can use the one linked above as a reference once the actual data for the coming year emerge in late September.

I’m afraid the teacher shortages may be brutal, especially of in-school teachers.

If there are enough bus drivers.

The coming debate over causes. If so, people and their interest groups will rush to the blackboard to speculate why.

  • The left will say not enough money;
  • The rest of us will reflect on the ongoing assault on teachers’ dignity, personal values, standards and autonomy in the classrooms.

School districts that choose to negotiate contracts with unions will be significantly disadvantaged by shortages.

So will the children.