DC area teacher shortage prompts summer school concerns

Will your children in the DMV be able to go to summer school this year or not?

That’s the question on the minds of many parents across the country.

Several school district leaders have said, they just aren’t sure if they have enough teachers to staff summer programs.

READ MORE: Arlington public schools officials say they have too few teachers to support summer school

Last week, Arlington Public Schools announced that there are not enough educators to meet the demand which means fewer spots to fill. 

Gboyinde Onijala with Montgomery County Public Schools told FOX 5’s Ayesha Khan Wednesday that summer school registration for students is still underway and open until June 4.

"We are continuing our efforts to attract a robust workforce to fully staff summer programs including providing teachers with a premium incentive pay," Onijala explained.

"We aren’t necessarily experiencing a "shortage" and are hopeful that we will be able to provide opportunities for all students who are interested in participating. But it is a bit early to tell for us, given that we have 2.5 more weeks of registration."

Khan also spoke with Missy Dirks, president of the the Frederick County Teacher’s Association.

Dirks said that a majority of county schools’ staff including substitutes, are ten month employees and most of them have other jobs they work during the summer.

READ MORE: Fairfax County schools parents push back against extension on ‘pass, no mark or letter grade’ option

She said, other factors include exhaustion from this past year and a half and a shorter summer from having to adjust the school year calendar due to testing and dual enrollment schedules. 

Dirks said that summer school was already limited even before the pandemic, meaning it was only being offered to students in high school or special education which in turn limited opportunities for teachers to pick up work.

This summer she said, mostly all school systems in the DMV are trying to offer summer school for all grades, so the need for staff is exponentially greater than it was in the past.

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"I don’t know of any district that has summer school available to every student at every school at every level and that’s what school districts are trying to do this year," Dirks said.

Khan noticed on social media, how some parents claim that maybe the teacher shortage is due to teachers who just want to continue teleworking and don’t want to go back to teaching in-person, but Dirks said, that’s not true.

"We are hearing from some schools the feedback they are getting from families is that this year has been crazy and that ‘Yeah you have offered us summer school but we don’t want it," Dirks explained.

Some parents Khan spoke with said that while they understand there are issues finding teachers to help with summer school, they still don’t have a concrete answer from their particular schools about whether their child will get to attend summer school at all this year. 

"We are just sitting back and waiting not hearing anything," said Amanda Miller, who adopted two young boys and English is their second language.  

"I was sent the registration information for the program but that’s where they say that spots are limited and we don’t know about staff availability."

Dirks said that usually substitute teachers are not involved in summer school nor are they collecting unemployment. She said this year, the union along with FCPS are allowing teachers to split summer school jobs with other teachers in an attempt to fill the shortage.  

According to Brandon Oland, spokesman for FCPS, the school system will be presenting to the board summer options at its meeting next Wednesday.