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Richmond begins school with 56 teacher vacancies: ‘It’s an issue of retention’

RICHMOND, Va. -- The school year has begun for students in Central Virginia, and although not rare according to experts, several local school divisions are beginning the year with teacher vacancies.

Last month, Richmond school leaders said they had more than 100 unfilled teacher positions with less than one month before school began. Interim superintendent Tommy Kranz said at the time there were plenty of applicants for the positions, but the school system has been very slow at returning applicants' phone calls.

As the school year begins, the CBS 6 Problem Solvers wanted to know where school districts in our region stand.

Chesterfield County, the area's largest school district, said they have six teacher vacancies. That number is down from last month, when officials told CBS 6 they had 50 openings.

Hanover County officials said they have zero teacher openings.

Henrico officials said they have 19 unfilled teacher positions. Last month, Henrico school leaders said they had 80 openings.

According to their online job portal, Petersburg Schools begins the school year with 11 teacher vacancies.

In Richmond, school leaders said there teacher vacancies have decreased to 56 to begin the school year.

Dr. Andrew Daire, Dean of the School of Education at VCU, said unfilled teacher positions do not mean classrooms without teachers. Most school districts put in place long term subs or retirees as stop gap measures until a full time instructor is hired, Daire said.

He added that teacher vacancies can be a symptom of a larger issue in Virginia education.

"It's not just recruitment issues of teachers coming in. There are teachers heading out a lot quicker," Daire said. "It's an issue of retention, but [also] how we can prepare those teachers so they can be more successful and stay in the schools."

Darie said education leaders in Virginia are working on professional development and year round support programs for Virginia teachers.

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