School districts face staffing issues heading into the fall

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ala. (WKRG) — After the 2020-2021 school year, 3,515 K-12 employees retired in Alabama. That’s the highest number since the 2010-2011 school year, according to the Alabama Teachers’ Retirement System.

In Washington County, Superintendent Lisa Connell says the exhaustion faculty and staff faced during the pandemic prompted many to leave earlier than normal.

“Some that I think would have gone a few more years chose to go ahead and retire,” she said. “I think if it had not been for COVID, most would have gone to at least 30 years.”

Connell was at McIntosh High School Wednesday discussing the shortage with Principal Jamelle Sauls.

“It’s been a struggle,” Sauls said. “[Our students] are very important. They’re the reason we have a job so we have to make sure they’re educated no matter what.”

Connell says if the district doesn’t get the influx of applications they need soon, they’re going to plan to hire temporary support personnel.

“In Mobile County and Clarke County, anyone that didn’t get a job there would normally come to us — it’s not a long drive,” she said. “But, they’re having the same problems we are so the extra teachers just aren’t there to fill the vacancies that we have.”

WKRG News 5 reached out to all of the county school districts in our southwest Alabama viewing area about this topic. Mobile and Baldwin Counties were the only other two that have gotten back to us in the past week. A spokesperson for Mobile County Public Schools says retirement numbers are lower there than in past years. In Baldwin County, officials there say there have been a lot of retirements, but applications have been pouring in to fill those spots.

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