LITTLE ROCK, Ark – Classes may be back in session, but many students are still left without a permanent teacher, as staffing shortages across the state continue.
“I feel like we could have seen this on the wall,” said Central High School teacher Kimberly Crutchfield.
Crutchfield started the school year this week different than she did the last, with a new list of tasks.
Crutchfield says she has two classes this year with 34 students instead of 25, as teachers make shifts to tackle a growing shortage.
“They have kids sitting on tables, they have kids standing up. One of our teachers had 40 kids in her room yesterday,” said Crutchfield.
Crutchfield says teachers are starting off the year overwhelmed as the district works to fill the more than 100 positions still open.
“I’ve never seen as many shortages,” said HR Executive Director for LRSD Robert Robinson.
Robinson says it’s been a long summer and an uphill battle he’s still climbing.
“We’re going to continue to look at creative ways to address it,” said Robinson.
Robinson says they’ve has to bring on more substitute teachers to fill slots: a temporary fix he’s hoping will end soon.
“To be shifting personnel at any given time is, to some degree, a disruption,” said Robinson.
The district has also opened slots to hire on an emergency basis, allowing people working towards certifications, to apply.
“We’re going to need more help than before to teach these kids,” said Crutchfield.
Teachers like Crutchfield fear the changes are permanent but are still holding out hope things will change.
The District says the are also looking at benefits and other ways to incentivize new hires.
LRSD spokesperson Pamela Smith released a statement Wednesday evening stating:
LRSD is usually lower than the state standard for student-to-teacher ratios. In fact, the teacher’s student load is less than the maximum that may be assigned per state standards. These are just the first few days of school. Be assured that we are committed to teaching and learning and are adjusting classes to best serve all students. Overall, this has been a great first week!