With less than a week before the start of the new academic year, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools has made some progress in filling teacher vacancies.

But the district is still short on exceptional children teachers and bus drivers. 

WS/FCS Interim Chief Human Resources Officer Alexandra Hoskins said the district is down to 85 teacher vacancies at a Board of Education meeting Tuesday night.

“That does include the use of some long-term substitutes, most of whom are fully certified teachers who just choose not to work full time," Hoskins said. "So that means that we're down to about one vacancy per school on average, which is super fantastic in comparison to where we were last year at this time.” 

Without the long-term subs, there would be 131 classroom teacher vacancies — about 32 fewer than the year before.

“So we are in good shape for all of this. And schools have their contingency plans," Hoskins said. "They've been working with their area superintendents to identify where those vacancies still exist, what can we do in terms of making sure that our students have quality instruction on the very first day of school.”

She said those plans vary from school to school, but that many involve teachers taking on additional responsibilities during their planning periods. 

But departments with higher vacancy rates are raising more concern. There are 33 openings for exceptional children (EC) teachers, and 22 for EC teacher assistants. 

“We continue to work to make sure that we are recruiting as many of those folks as we possibly can," Hoskins said. "I know that we've had some outside partners reach out to us. And so we are investigating some opportunities there, if we need to go to that extent to work with an outside agency to try to identify some of those candidates.”

The district is also still short about 59 bus drivers which will cause delays in pick-up and drop-off times for students.

Amy Diaz covers education for WFDD in partnership with Report For America. You can follow her on Twitter at @amydiaze.

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