Sep 16, 2013 7:28 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck
The school system in Iberia Parish has officially declared a critical shortage of teachers, with several resigning since the school year began.
The resignations began last year when out of 950 parish teachers, 144 either resigned or retired. Since then, the school system has filled those vacancies, but still finds itself with a shortage of seven teachers who chose to leave.
"I can understand how it can be easier for some teachers to make that decision. However, speaking personally for myself, I embrace each challenge as an opportunity to become a better teacher," Johnston-Hopkins Elementary School teacher Betty Johnson said.
While teachers like Johnson are choosing to stay with the school system, 10 teachers have already left since the school year began, and several retired this summer.
"They're just saying I'm at this point where I can retire. I was going to give it a few more years, but it's just too much, too fast," Director of Personnel for Iberia Parish School Board Jacklene Jones said.
Jones says the challenge for teachers has been learning the new curriculum called "Engage New York," plus teaching it to students all at the same time. It's why, she says, many are choosing to leave.
"This is my 12th year as the Director of Personnel, and it is the first time that I have not been able to get elementary certified teachers to fill all of my positions," Jones said.
She says there's urgency with even one teacher vacancy. So the decision was made to declare a critical shortage of teachers. The system is offering retired teachers, who have sat out for at least a year, to come back without sacrificing their retirement earnings.
"I have everybody in the system talking to friends that they know who have retired, (asking) what do you think? Come back for a least a year. And that's what we're asking them, could they at least come and help us out for this year," Jones said.