Nashville public schools is trying to tackle Metro’s teacher shortage.
The district has 160 certified teacher vacancies and 272 unfilled support positions. Some of the largest vacancies are in middle schools.
Chris Barnes, the district’s new chief of human resources, told the school board Tuesday night that he wants to speed up the hiring process, especially for student teachers.
“Really it’s trying to find more people to get into our system.” says Barnes. “So streaming and making more efficient the process for applying.”
He says Metro schools has 140 student teachers and hopes the district can interview qualified candidates and offer them early contracts before they start looking elsewhere.
Barnes wants to create applicant pools and reduce the time students go without certified teachers, too.
One issue for Metro schools has been its inability to retain teachers due to low pay. But Barnes says in addition to addressing underfunding, culture and communication can also help keep staff members.
“I do truly believe that pay is only one part of a larger issue with retention,” says Barnes. “I would want to say that when teachers feel valued, when they feel like they’ve been dealt with dignity and respect, that retains teachers as well.”
The district is expected to ask for more than $1 million in its budget request to boost its HR and professional development programs.
That includes $350,000 to hire new HR recruiters and nearly a half-million dollars to spend on professional development.