‘It’s a balancing act’ | Schools get creative to fill vacant teacher positions

Assistant Superintendent of Student Success said 27 is the average vacancy KCS sees in Special Education.
27 positions are open across Knox County Schools.
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2022 at 10:38 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The Assistant Superintendent of Student Success said Knox County Schools are short 27 special education teachers.

Jason Myers is in the first year of his position at KCS and said right now the district is getting creative to staff special ed classes.

”That’s why it’s a balancing act between the staff that’s in the schools, how can we be creative with scheduling to make sure students are getting access to their supports and services,” said Myers. “And then balance that with additional support from the district when it is clear that perhaps we aren’t going to be able to do that.”

Myers was a special education teacher himself.

”It’s incredibly fulfilling work, its important work like in terms of again making a difference for students,” said Myers. “It’s a big deal if you can recover some lost reading skills, it’s a big deal if you can help a student earn their regular diploma, these are not small tasks and it’s incredibly rewarding.”

Joining the district in 2008 he added that it was a struggle to hire educators for the positions more than a decade ago, and it has only gotten harder.

The district is now offering $7,000 signing bonuses after agreeing to a three-year commitment.

Additionally, Knox County Schools are using the Grow Your Own Program to spur people to get certified to teach special education.

While not nearing a crisis point yet, Myers said if parents fear their child is falling behind, there are safety measures in place to prevent further learning loss.

”If parents felt like their child wasn’t making progress or schools staff felt like their child wasn’t making progress, we could hold an IEP team meeting and look at the program and look and see what kind of progress was and wasn’t being made and try and determine why that may be,” said Myers.

Knox County Schools has openings in all departments, this comes as Tennessee is short 2,000 educators state-wide.

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