SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – With less than three weeks before Springfield students return from summer break, Springfield Public Schools is tackling a nationwide problem before it hits their classrooms.
“We have about 99% of our classroom teaching positions filled and it is normal as the summer progresses,” District Spokesperson Stephen Hall said. “Right now, we feel confident that we are able to rise to the occasion and meet the need. But certainly, we have to acknowledge that there is a nationwide teaching shortage.”
Hall says while the district is close to being fully staffed with educators, they can’t ignore the situation down the road.
“We are seeing it’s more and more difficult to recruit teachers across this country. That’s not something that’s unique here in Missouri, but it is something that we have to acknowledge and face,” Hall said.
One thing SPS says it needs help with is temporary support in the classroom.
“We are providing the most qualified substitute candidates that we can find right now. And so we’re committed to excellence.”
The head of a local teacher’s union says having fewer educators creates a burden on those already in the classroom.
“When they can’t get subs, they’re asking us to, you know, to use our plan, time to go cover another classroom,” Springfield NEA President Laura Mullins said. “So then what that does is that all that work we would have gotten done during our planning time now goes home.”
Mullins said using substitutes can have an effect on a child’s education.
“I think before you can teach a child anything, you have to have that relationship built up with a child,” Mullins said. “That’s really hard to do when you’re filling that position off and on with subs.”