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Permanent subs to help ease vacancy pains

August 17, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A science teacher at Musselman Middle School turned in his resignation Tuesday, bringing the number of teaching vacancies with Berkeley County Schools to 19, Assistant Superintendent Rick Deuell said Tuesday.

Teachers report back to school Tuesday, Aug. 23, while the first day for students is Friday, Aug. 26.

The 19 vacancies include a variety of positions, including English/language arts jobs and special education positions, Deuell said.

"We're struggling, but we're going to make it with a lot of permanent subs," Deuell said, adding that it's possible more than 50 permanent substitute teachers will be in classrooms next Friday.

Thirty-four permanent substitute teachers from last year will be returning. All permanent substitutes must have a college degree, but not all are certified. Some will be retired teachers, Deuell said.

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Placing a permanent substitute in the classroom is not designed to be the final solution. All vacancies remain open, and applicants are being interviewed for teaching positions, Deuell said.

A month ago, Deuell said there were 72 teaching positions that needed to be filled.

Deuell credited the number of positions still open to last-minute resignations and difficulty in filling critical needs jobs.

The county employs around 1,100 teachers.

The middle school science teacher left for a higher-paying job with a private school - as is the case with many teachers who leave Berkeley County, Deuell said.

Teachers can make, on average, $20,000 to $25,000 more a year in salary simply by driving across state lines to work, school officials have said. Salaries for teachers are higher in Virginia and Maryland.

Locality pay - in which higher salaries are paid to teachers in the Eastern Panhandle to help offset a higher cost of living - would help.

"With locality pay, we could've kept half of these people," Deuell said. Exit interviews show that nearly all teachers who resigned did so for a higher salary in another state.

Several local members of the state Legislature have said they will ask the governor to consider implementing a locality pay system. A special legislative session to address salaries of state employees, including teachers, is scheduled for next month.

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