As of the end of the 2021-22 school year, Clayton County Public Schools face a shortage of about 200 teachers.

Human Resources Director Alisha Albritten told board members at the June 27 meeting that, as of July 2022, 504 teachers had “separated” from the school system, whether they had resigned, retired, been dismissed, or not had their contracts renewed. However, she added, CCPS has hired about 300 new teachers since then:

Source: Clayton County Board of Education

Clayton County, like other school districts, is turning to retirees as a potential solution. A new state law that goes into effect in July will let retired teachers keep their benefits if they return to the classroom full-time. 

Clayton County Board of Education chair Jessie Goree said that, even with ensured benefits, former educators are hesitant about returning to the field. 

“You know what their answer is: ‘No way,’” Goree said.

Albritten also presented results from a district-wide survey of teachers. The majority of teachers surveyed strongly agreed that they were satisfied with their job. However, less than half of CCPS’ teachers responded to the end-of-year survey. Albritten attributed this to a perceived lack of confidentiality.

“Employees often mentioned that they don’t believe that anonymity is possible with district-administered surveys,” Albritten said. “We will move to perhaps entertaining the idea of securing a third party vendor to administer the survey in hopes of getting more respondents.”

A recent National Education Association poll found that 55% percent of teachers are thinking about quitting earlier. NEA attributed this burnout to the overall strain on teachers caused by COVID-19 staffing shortages. 

CCPS will spend about $15 million more on classroom teacher salaries in fiscal year 2023, with a 4% to 14% salary increase for most teachers.

Albritten noted the Georgia Professional Standards Commission is eliminating some teacher certification requirements. The district also is employing radio advertisements, car decals and career fairs to recruit new teachers.

Goree described the current educational climate as “really a bad time.”

“We’re about to run everybody away for some of the things that we’re talking about…,” Goree said. “If we could just get back to just being able to teach, I think that would help us a whole lot.”

Elena Hubert is an intern with The Clayton Crescent. She is a journalism student at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL.

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