A teacher shortage continues to plague West Virginia schools


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As another school year begins in West Virginia, the head of the West Virginia Education Association worries the teacher shortage in West Virginia continues to widen. Speaking this week on MetroNews Talkline, Dale Lee, President of the WVEA anticipated the number of vacancies in teaching positions will near 1700 as the year begins.

Dale Lee

“People are retiring and there are less students going into education so the numbers aren’t there. Plus those who are graduating from our programs in West Virginia are going out of state to get jobs,” Lee said.

The lack of certified teachers in the state has been a growing problem for many years. The pay gap between West Virginia and surrounding states has been a longtime issue and regardless of how much the Legislature raises the pay, it becomes a race the state has been unable to win.

“We’re such a border state. You can make anywhere from four thousand to 20 thousand dollars more by driving across the state line. Our young teachers are leaving,” he explained.

The issue may only deepen with the implementation of a new program this year which puts aids into the classroom to assist teachers in grades 1, 2, and 3. The program passed by lawmakers will be phased in over three years starting with first grade in year one. Aids will undergo 30 hours of training to take the positions which will also give them a boost in pay.

Lee believed the program would be helpful with test score improvements since the more eyes and hands in a classroom the better the outcome. However, he feared the program will leave school systems struggling in other areas.

“In Roane County for example even people who are cooks are going into the training for these first grade positions. There’s going to be shortages everywhere, but where it’s particularly going to show is these special-ed classes,” he explained.

Lee worried the problem with shortages in those other areas this year will only grow next year when the aids are also required in 2nd grade classrooms.

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