By Luke Williams
It’s 2020, and every bit of work is piling up around principal Mr. Chris Conley. Dealing with absences. Figuring out schedules. And most importantly, finding teachers to fill in suddenly open job positions.
Now, it’s 2022, and he’s still dealing with open job positions, but now, it’s no longer surprising.
He’s been looking for a biology teacher since late July, while an English position has been open for about six weeks.
“It’s very difficult to find people,” Mr. Conley said. “A lot of people have left education, and so there’s already a shortage.”
It’s been hard to find teachers for hire during the middle of the school year. Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, it has become increasingly difficult to find suitable teachers for hire in high schools. The amount of people that are pursuing careers as teachers has also gone down in recent years.
“For a time period there were a lot of young people that weren’t going into teaching, so there was a natural shortage going to occur,” says Mr. Conley.
Shortage of teachers isn’t a new concept, but the shortage of teachers used to come from expected things, such as retirement. This influx of teachers leaving with little notice is a new concept to manage.
The number of teachers that have left has actually stayed relatively the same across the eras of pre and post COVID. However, ever since COVID, the school has had to bring in teachers during the school year, rather than having people come in after the year had ended.
In total, Conley said the school has hired 17 new staff since the start of COVID.
Along with there being not many people to fill in the gaps, there are several more teachers that are making gaps during the year. Engineering and construction teacher Mr. Curt Grams and speech teacher Miss Katie Habansky have left during the first semester, making it difficult to fill in these positions during the year.
It’s hard to fill in the gaps due to most teachers already having positions by the time these jobs were posted. Typically, a teacher leaves at the end of the school year to give the school ample time to fill their positions.
However, this is not always the case. Over the weekend of Dec. 3-4, freshman English teacher Mr. Hayden Ferguson left his position, leaving retired English teacher Mr. Omstead to take his place. Mr. Omstead plans to fill in his position for the remainder of this semester and for the next semester as well.
Another retired teacher, Mr. Todd Trehearne, has been teaching biology this semester.
“We’ve had a couple of people call with interest for each position, but we’re down to about one or two applications for each job,” Mr. Conley said.
Due to the lack of applications, Mr.Trehearne may be returning for the Biology position next semester, but that is not yet finalized.
Mr. Conley said he will repost the positions for both Biology and English in March or early April next year.