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Daily shortage of 20 teachers in Richmond schools: RTA president

Increasing the number of teacher on-call positions could help retain teachers and help with shortages.
Richmond Teachers Association President Liz Baverstock is concerned about ongoing teacher shortages.

The Richmond School District has been short 20 teachers every day since the beginning of the school year.

That means, between September and January, there were 1,800 instances where there were no on-call teachers available to fill an absence.

While this is an improvement from last year, teacher shortages have been plaguing the district since 2017, said Liz Baverstock, president of the Richmond Teachers' Association. However, she added, shortages fluctuate from year to year.

Baverstock said the shortages at the elementary level result in specialist teachers and ELL support being pulled from their work in helping students with diverse needs in order to fill the void.

"For specialist teachers, they don't get to do the work they were hired to do and most of their evenings they are doing catch-up on their work," said Baverstock. This is impacting the school district creating "system-wide level of exhaustion," and it doesn't appear to be letting up, she added.

"We have people going into positions and leaving positions because they are not what they signed up for. There's a loss for us when people leave."

Baverstock suggested the Richmond Board of Education increase unassigned positions - full-time teachers who just work as on-call teachers - from the current 25 to 50.

"This allows Richmond to keep teachers in Richmond ... but it does take more money," she said.

She noted many teachers are often on on-call lists in other districts.

Trustee Ken Hamaguchi questioned whether it's possible to fill 50 on-call positions.

Baverstock countered that they've had no problem filling 25 spots and if the district doesn't try, they will never know.

"If you put them out there, you've got a chance. If you don't, you don't have a chance," she said.

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