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Charlotte Amalie
Tuesday, June 18, 2024


Aug. 10, 2001 – With the start of school less than two weeks away, the Education Department put out a call Friday for more teachers, nurses and librarians in both districts, citing eight resignations just received from secondary school personnel on St. Croix.
Not counting the eight new resignations, classroom vacancies include two teachers of vocational education, one of math, and three of special education (two in the St. Thomas-St. John district and one on St. Croix), according to a department release distributed Friday. The additional eight St. Croix vacancies include four teachers — two of English, one of art and one of social studies.
"One of our greatest area of needs is nurses," the release stated, citing nine such vacancies on St. Croix and four in St. Thomas-St. John. And there are three vacancies in each district for librarians.
Alscess Lewis-Brown, Education human resources director, noted the problem of staff resigning "just prior to the beginning of a new school year." Classes are to begin resuming on Aug. 22, and Lewis-Brown indicated concern that there may be more resignations to come.
She said, "I implore all teachers who are planning to leave to consider the children impacted by the lateness of such resignations. The department needs to know in advance … so that appropriate scheduling can be achieved and students are best served."
Individuals within the education field have said that one reason some teachers intending not to return in the fall do not submit their resignations sooner is concern that they may not receive the last two months of their academic-year pay, which is pro-rated throughout the 12-month year.
Earlier this week, the Education Department announced the initiation of a new "job-sharing" program to address the territory's chronic teacher shortage. The plan is for two or more individuals to occupy one teacher slot, dividing up the courses and the entry-level pay while receiving no insurance, leave or retirement benefits.
A department release said candidates should be "professionals with content area credits and expertise" and must hold at least a bachelor's degree, except for those who would teach vocational education courses. There was no indication of how many teacher positions would need to be filled in this manner.
At a Board of Education meeting over the weekend of July 21-22, Lewis-Brown stated that the department anticipated about 40 vacancies in each district when school resumed.
On Aug. 1, at a Senate Finance Committee budget hearing for the Board of Education, senators were told that as many as half the territory's current public school teachers, mainly at the high school level, may not hold mandatory certification. The board executive director, Evadney Hodge, said such teachers may not have taken required education courses or may not have complied with a 1992 law requiring all teachers to complete a college course in Virgin Islands history.
Over the years, because the need for teachers "was so severe in the Virgin Islands, those persons were hired," Hodge told the committee.
Sen. Norman Jn. Baptiste has said the Teacher Recruitment Act of 2001, which he introduced and the governor signed into law a week ago, will help address the teacher shortage, by raising starting salaries and putting existing teachers on step.
For details on current vacancies, qualified individuals interested in either full-time teaching positions or job-sharing are asked to contact the Education Department human resources offices at 774-0100, ext. 3054, on St. Thomas and 773-1095 on St. Croix.

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