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Education Beat: Flint School staff shortage at 'critical' stage

Harold C. Ford

“Teachers are leaving.”

— Joyce Ellis McNeil, President, Flint Board of Education

A central issue at the 4-hour Flint Board of Education (FBOE) Committee Plenary on Aug. 10 was a “critical” shortage of candidates to fill vacancies (mainly teachers) in school districts. .

Flint officials said it currently does not have more than 40 qualified full-time staff. FBOE President Joyce Ellis McNeil said 47 positions were vacant.

Karen Christian, President of United Teachers of Flint, said: East Village Magazine, said: Our children deserve daily instruction from accredited and highly qualified teachers. …these staffing shortages negatively impact performance, especially for students who require additional support in and out of the classroom. ”

FBOE meeting from May 2022. (Photo by Tom Travis)

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FBOE meetings from May 2022. (Photo by Tom Travis)

Nevertheless, FBOE has rejected a proposal by the central administration to create a new “recruiter” tasked with filling vacancies within the district. Only secretary Linda Booth and trustee Allen Gilbert voted in favor of the proposal. “No” votes were cast by: Laura McIntyre, Treasurer. Chris Del Morrone, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer. Board member Daniel Green and vice president Carol McIntosh were absent and left the meeting early. A minimum of 4 votes is required for a proposal to pass in a 7-person committee.

Flint students began reporting to classes the week of August 1st. Flint has adopted a “balanced calendar” beginning in the 2019-20 school year. A balanced calendar is characterized by an early start, a late end, and more frequent breaks during the school year.

Retirement/Continuation of Retirement

At the same August 10 board meeting, a document released to the public reported that Flint Community Schools (FCS) staff had recently vacated 15 positions, taking over a total of 209 years of teaching experience at Flint Schools. .

At the same meeting, only one new teacher assigned to Durant Turi Mott Elementary School was announced as a new employee.

in recent years, EVMs When such information became available by school officials reported on the continued decline in FCS staff. Hundreds of employees left the district with more than 2,000 years of FCS experience. .

Doyle-Ryder’s first grade teacher, Kim Montini, sits at her desk and talks to her class on her first day of school as she eats the breakfast that is served each morning. Montini has taught in his FCS district for 26 years and Doyle-Ryder for 5 years. (Photo by Tom Travis)

“Teachers are leaving,” McNeill said bluntly.

“They are leaving the district,” agreed Gilbert. “We don’t want anyone to come to our district because we don’t have the money to pay them.”

Multiple FBOE members have hinted at “poaching” by neighboring school districts that may offer better wages and benefit packages. “We are surrounded by competition,” he declared McNeal.

First aid

The shortage of classroom teachers has become so pronounced in recent years that ‘temporary’ teachers without full qualifications have been hired to fill classroom positions, and other school personnel such as assistant teachers have The contract was rearranged to replace the absent teacher.

FCS is currently offering a signing bonus of $3,000 to newly hired teachers. $5,000 will be provided to new hire managers.

According to FCS supervisor Kevelin Jones, recent job fairs have failed. “We weren’t able to recruit among the candidates,” he says. “Many unqualified candidates have emerged.”

FCS manager Kevelyn Jones. (Photo by Tom Travis)

“We don’t usually get applicants.

A recent Facebook post by McNeal may have encouraged unqualified applicants to apply. “A person with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, or both, is qualified to perform any task related to education.”

“Recruitment efforts due to staffing shortages are critical, if not top priority, to the success of Flint students,” said Christian.

Planning time sacrificed: additional cost to the district

Many staff employed are now being diverted from their assigned positions to cover unsupervised classes, Jones said. This includes para-professionals, interventionists, and other teachers who sacrifice scheduled planning time.

According to Christian, “Teachers deserve to have time to plan each day without being frequently asked to cover other classrooms due to understaffing. It is an essential ingredient for student success at …Sometimes teachers have no time to plan at all.”

A student at Freeman Elementary School in Flint. (Photo by Tom Travis)

District leaders say the practice of filling vacant positions with already-employed staff is detrimental to FCS’s already plagued financial profile as it has to pay replacement wages in addition to contract salaries. said.

Teachers who give up planning periods to work as vacant subs are paid to plan at home after normal working hours. “It’s costing us,” said Jones. “We can’t keep working like this.”

Ellis-McNeal states that FCS Associate Professionals — members of Service Employees International Union Local 517 — earn an associate rate of $11 per hour, plus an additional income of $25 to $30 per hour. Estimated.

‘We need to scale down’

A larger problem exacerbating the ongoing staff shortage could have been addressed by McIntyre. “We need to downsize this district,” she said.

An audit by Plante Moran Cresa (PMC) reported to the FCS Board in January 2022 recommended “District Adequacy”. At the time, they told his FBOE he only needed four basic buildings in the district.

FCS currently operates eight basic buildings. Doyle/Ryder; Durant-Turi-Mott; Eisenhower; Freeman; Pierce; and Potter.

The PMC said the loss of students in recent years has left school buildings underutilized at all grade levels. The company projects that FCS enrollment numbers will continue to decline to he 2,344 by the 2030-31 school year.

Teachers may be in short supply elsewhere

Burnout, low wages, large class sizes, and teacher shortages due to the pandemic have been reported for years, according to University.com. “

Sarah Harris reported that Michigan was not included in the list of “top 10 states with teacher shortages.”

A survey conducted earlier this year by the National Education Association, as reported by news nationfound that 55% of educators had planned to leave their profession earlier than planned due to the pandemic. Also, a report from the National Council on Education Statistics found that the pandemic is causing him 61% of school vacancies.

Homemade signs held up by parents and students at the Flint Board of Education meeting on Wednesday. (Photo by Tom Travis)

Some headlines are crying out for teacher shortages. CNN: The teaching profession “crisis”. washington post: “America is facing a devastating teacher shortage.”

However, Jill Barshay posted on August 22nd that Hechinger Reportquotes Dan Goldhaber, a labor economist at the American Institute.

Goldhaber estimates that schools with 1,000 students will, on average, not have half their vacancies filled by the fall of 2021. He tells his Barshay that teacher numbers are consistent with past patterns.

On August 4, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education released a national survey of more than 800 schools that found, on average, about three teaching vacancies per school as of June 2022. I understand.

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The remaining Flint School Board meetings for 2022 are scheduled for August 17, September 14 and 21. October 12th and 19th. November 9th and 16th. December 14th and 21st. You can watch remotely or in person. The meeting will be held at his ALA Building, 1602 S. Averill Ave., Flint, MI 48503. See his website at FCS for more information.

EVMs Education Beat reporters can be reached at hcford1185@gmail.com.