Floyd County Schools is looking to rely more heavily on dual enrollment with colleges in high school math, science and foreign language subjects due to a wide spread shortage of high school teachers in those fields.
Jeff Wilson, superintendent for Floyd County Schools, said it has become almost impossible to find teachers in those fields due to the economy, which isn’t in itself a bad a thing. He said when the economy was doing poorly, math teachers could be found due to the loss of jobs in math-related fields, now since the economy is doing better they are making more money in business.
“We have had a Spanish position open since the beginning of the year and had zero applicants,” he said. “We are concerned next year we will have some of those openings and we won’t get any applicants.”
Online programs like Rosetta Stone are available, however Wilson said this is not as good as taking the class in person. He said in his experience students who have taken Spanish I and II online struggle in really understanding the language when they reach the Spanish III. Another issue with having a shortage of foreign language teachers is the fact that colleges require high school students to have had two years of foreign language before they can be accepted.
He said Google Classroom would also be an option, allowing teachers to teach across multiple classes at once. This option would not be the best way to learn a foreign language he said, but an option none the less if no teachers can be found. He also mentioned the school system might have to offer a bonus to attract teachers, which would only work if there were potential candidates interested.
A possible answer to this would be more dual enrollment classes through local colleges. The benefits to dual enrollment are students get college credit while at the same time the school system does not have to hire teachers for those class periods, Wilson said.
Wilson brought this issue up to legislators during the Dec. 18 joint board meeting at the Floyd County Schools main office. During the discussion, he told lawmakers he had spoken with local colleges who told him they did not have a high participation in math, science and foreign language degrees, meaning there will be little to no teachers of those fields in the future.
During the meeting, Rome City Schools Superintendent Lou Byars told legislators the retirement benefits teachers receive is a strong recruiting tool the schools use, and tampering with those funds would lead to difficulty in recruiting future teachers. After the meeting Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, said newcomers to the legislature always see the retirement fund and want to know what it is for. She added there is a push every year from educators to keep the fund intact and be left alone.