How Montgomery Co. Schools Battled Teacher Shortages


Schools in Montgomery County, Maryland, have improvised to keep their teaching staff at full capacity as districts across the region grapple with teacher shortages.

Schools in Montgomery County, Maryland have made unusual adjustments to keep their teaching staff at full capacity as districts nationwide and the DC region grapple with teacher shortages.

Montgomery County Schools Superintendent Monifa McKnight said part of their success has come from actively recruiting candidates across the county.

“The recruiting efforts that we have found very successful this year are actually changing the way we recruit. Getting out into the community and meeting our community members where they are, so we could very well have a pop-up shop in a mall,” McKnight said. “Compared to the past, advertising positions and expecting everyone to come to us, we have found success by going to them.”

McKnight also told reporters they relied on retired teachers who volunteered to come back and fill roles, sometimes in what’s called a “permanent replacement program” that has proven useful during the omicron push last year.

“It allowed us to have replacements who are familiar with the schools and serve regularly in those schools, so they could be available for any vacancies,” McKnight said. “Many of them, again, are retired certified teachers, some are those with special certifications, who serve in these programs to cover these courses until we are able to hire more. permanently.”

She credited a community-wide effort to fill vacancies and told the story of a mother who came to her and signed up to teach Spanish because she was certified.

County Executive Marc Elrich also attributes recent pay increases to county teachers.

In May, an agreement was reached for a salary increase of approximately 6% for MCPS staff.

“Our ability to increase salaries was another big factor in being able to not only attract new teachers, but also recruit from other systems,” Elrich said.

One of the holes in the staffing of the school system is that of special education teachers.

There were 89 vacancies on the first day of school, according to McKnight.

But in August, a plan ratified by the Montgomery County Education Association hopes to convince dual-certified special education and general education teachers to move into special education classrooms. They are offering a $5,000 bonus to those who make the transition.

The agreement also provides quarterly incentives for special education teachers who become responsible for additional students as a case manager for a special education student’s Individualized Education Program Plan. Teachers could get up to $4,000 more per year.

“So we’re still seeing how this initiative pans out,” McKnight said on the first day of school.

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