Education employee shortages abound across West Virginia. WVEA TODAY staff spoke to teachers and service personnel across the state to see how shortages were affecting their work and their students. We have kept the comments anonymous to protect the staff from the potential of retaliation.
A high school teacher from Cabell County with over ten years of experience told us there are weeks when he has given up all of his planning time to cover for absent teachers. This is a common occurrence across the state. Further, he stated that a position has been posted since last year and remains unfilled. At his school, there are many long-term subs, but when someone misses a day, most often there are not any subs available to take that assignment.
A bus operator from Berkeley County advises that they have operators doing double runs on a regular basis. They have also had directors and outside contractors transporting students in vans and minivans. She added that it is not only transportation. Cooks, custodians and aides are all in short supply. When a cook misses and there is no substitute, “their workload increases with no additional compensation. The same with custodians. We also have classroom aides and early childhood assistance teachers who are teaching classes, by themselves for an entire day or longer with no increase in compensation.” She was concerned that this is causing burnout, driving people from the profession, and making it harder to attract staff.
A teacher from Raleigh County told us about the issues at their school. “No custodian in our hallway for weeks. Teachers are asked to empty their trash every day. Those of us who want a clean room are sweeping and mopping our rooms during our lunch break.” Student teachers are being asked to teach classes unsupervised and attempts are made to combine classes.
We also spoke with a teacher from a northern county who told us, “I was pulled from my special education assignment for most of the year to cover classes last year. Leaving those students without needed services. I still cannot take a sick day because I can’t find a sub.” While in southern West Virginia, a teacher told us about having a vacancy at her high school all year. Multiple subs had been hired, but none stayed more than two weeks. Often the students were kept in the gymnasium, receiving no instruction for the better part of nine weeks!
An elementary teacher we were working with in our western region of the state had vacancies at her elementary school. Almost every day, students were divided into other classrooms, causing a set back of instruction for both groups of students.
Do you have an issue at your school and would like to speak to one of our member advocacy specialists? Call our Help Center at (866) 568-9832.