GEORGE COUNTY, Miss. (WKRG) — George County Schools could start the school year with four teaching positions unfilled.

Superintendent Wade Whitney made a public plea in a special-called board of education meeting Thursday to find candidates for three special education and one math position.

“We think it’s a good number in comparison to a lot of other districts in the state,” said Whitney. “We are in dire need of those four people. We’re very aware that those are the most difficult positions to find but we need to find them.”

Unless hires are made in the next two weeks, those classrooms could start the year with substitute teachers until the positions are filled.

“We could start the school year with a sub, continuing to hope that you would find somebody, and that’s one option. Another option is to finagle the master schedule to increase some class sizes in some other areas to absorb some of the students that would be in that room,” said Whitney.

The minimum starting salary for each of the positions is $42,275 but could go up to $72,375 with higher levels of education and experience. The special education positions are for Central Elementary and one each in the middle and high schools. The math teacher position is for the high school.

Whitney said there’s a national challenge with recruiting math, special education and high school science teachers. Math degree holders often find higher-paying jobs in the private sector while special education takes a unique skill set and comes with rigid state standards and paperwork, said Whitney.

“It’s a calling to work in special education, it really is,” Whitney told board members.

Bus drivers remain another concern for the district. Operations Director Chris West told board members he’ll know more next week about potential disruptions to routes with unfilled driver positions.

Board President Barkley Henderson said some drivers stayed with the district after a wage increase. Minimum hourly pay is $14.57 and maximum is $21.78.