By Barney Blakeney
Despite a rocky road littered with stumbling blocks in the form of teacher contract and principal reassignment conflicts, Charleston County School District is set to begin the school year August 17 with no principal vacancies and a typical number of teacher vacancies.
Officials said, “As of August 9 the district does not have any principal vacancies, and has 33 vacancies for essential classroom positions (which is less than one percent of our teacher workforce of approximately 3,500). These numbers are normal for this time of the year, so we are not seeing a large-scale, negative impact in hiring.” Additionally, the district added 119 classroom positions with its 2017-18 budget.
That’s counter to the views held by some county school board members. First term trustee Kevin Hollinshead expected the fallout from recent controversies over teacher contracts and administrative reassignments to take a greater toll. Board members had not been made aware of the numbers yet so Hollinshead said Tuesday he expected the district would have a hard time filling positions as professional networks put out the word about difficult working conditions in Charleston County.
Trustee Michael Miller who is in his second term on the board acknowledged teacher and principal vacancies is a recurring issue. But he offered that any teacher shortage likely would be a result of the limited number of educators being produced at the state’s colleges and universities. The fact that Charleston County School District issues its teacher contracts later than most other school districts also puts CCSD at a disadvantage, he said.
Rev. Chris Collins, who has serve eight years on the board said while the controversy over teacher contracts and principal reassignments may have created some chaos, systemic problems account for high rates of turnover annually. Some schools lose almost 50 percent of teachers annually, he said. Although district administrators have conducted listening sessions to gain more insight about how to retain teachers and principals, a distinct lack of trust and transparency continues the local problem that also is reflected on a national level. But no matter how the numbers end up, high poverty Title 1 schools which usually are overwhelmingly minority, suffer most from vacancies and turnovers, Collins said.