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Saturday, July 13, 2024
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EDUCATION WORRIED ABOUT TEACHER SHORTAGE

While Education Commissioner Ruby Simmonds was attending a federal funding seminar Thursday on St. Croix, the Education Department issued a plea for teachers to notify the department if they do not plan to return to work in the fall.
Alscess Lewis-Brown, director of Human Resources, said, "We ask teachers and support staff members to confirm their work plans for the upcoming school year. We appeal to those who are considering leaving their current position to let us know, even informally, so that we may be better prepared to begin the new school year."
She said rumors abound that many teachers will not return in the fall. "We just ask our colleagues to give us the courtesy of a heads-up, so that our children are not caught short in August," she said in the release.
In February members of the Ninth Grade Parents Group at Charlotte Amalie marched on Government House to protest the shortage of teachers at the school. The group was especially concerned about the lack of teachers of required courses such as general science and math. They also pointed out there were not enough librarians at the school. One librarian served more than 2,000 students last year.
Some feel low pay for teachers is the problem, but many teachers point to lack of organization, high absenteeism, the Notice of Personnel Action (NOPA) process and low morale as the real problems.
One teacher went almost the entire year without ever getting her NOPA processed. She won't be returning.
Another teacher who is not planning on returning said, "No one in the administration really wants to do anything to change the situation. No one really cares."
The absentee rate on any given day still hovers around 10 percent, a problem that has existed for many years.
Simmonds, speaking at the meeting on St. Croix, blamed bureaucracy, criticism and lawsuits for the problems in the department.
She called the territory a "quick fix" society where people voice their dissatisfaction through the media.
"The department, in a desire to appease, diverts its attention" from its focus on problem-solving, she said.
"Maybe we should shut the entire system down for a year," she said, while the problems are addressed.

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