BENNINGTON — The Mount Anthony Union School District needs math and science teachers.
At the MAU School Board meeting on Wednesday, middle school principal Christopher Maguire, high school principal Tim Payne and Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union Superintendent Jim Culkeen informed the board that multiple openings have yet to be filled for math and science teachers, reading specialists and custodians.
At the middle school, Maguire said, he’s short three math teachers — one each for sixth, seventh and eighth grade — as well as a seventh-grade science teacher and a reading specialist/literacy coach.
At the high school, Culkeen said, there are openings for three science teachers, two math teachers, two custodians and an academic mentor.
“The principals of your middle school and high school have done an incredible job to make their schools open and operating, along with their staff who have been asked to step up and do even more until we can get these positions filled,” Culkeen told the board. “It’s a statewide problem. It’s a national problem.”
“It shouldn’t surprise anyone that math and science positions are difficult to fill,” he added. “There are so many other job opportunities for people with those skills.”
While math and science positions are harder to fill, the state Agency of Education is seeing the greatest need in the lower grades and in special education, the Agency of Education’s Suzanne Sprague said.
“Based on provisional licenses requested, the current areas of greatest need are elementary education followed by special education. Speaking more generally, math and science teaching positions are typically difficult to fill, though we haven’t seen that trend change recently,” Sprague said. “Other perennially difficult areas are drivers’ education and principal positions.”
The shortages have forced the faculty and staff at both schools to step up, and the building principals and Culkeen said they were grateful for the ways they’re contributed.
“I appreciate you pointing out the work our teachers are doing picking up the slack,” Murphy told Culkeen. Whether it’s help with planning or grading, “when you fill positions temporarily with substitutes, you need that extra support.
“We’ve been working really hard with HR and with others — Mr. Culkeen, [Assistant Superintendent Laura] Boudreau — and I appreciate everyone’s support in trying to work through this hiring crisis that we’re in right now,” Murphy said. He also thanked Payne — formerly principal at Mount Anthony Union Middle School — for his help in creative problem-solving to address the shortage.
Culkeen said there are fewer workforce needs at the district’s elementary schools.
According to the jobs page on the SVSU website, open educator positions at the elementary level include a long-term substitute first-grade teacher at Molly Stark Elementary; a school nurse, health assistant and two special-needs specialists at Bennington Elementary; and a behavior specialist at Monument Elementary.
In the Arlington School District, which is also part of the SVSU, there are openings for a Spanish teacher and a social worker at Arlington Memorial High School, and a long-term substitute kindergarten teacher at Fisher Elementary. Arlington also has openings for a custodian at Fisher and bus drivers.