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Berkeley school board struggles to fill vacancies

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Board of Education is struggling to meet staffing requirements for the upcoming school year. The concern was discussed at the Board of Education’s Monday meeting in Martinsburg.

Since April, the board has advertised 252 teaching positions, but only 112 new hires have been made, officials said. As of last week, they report 74 teaching vacancies left to fill.

The irony of Berkeley County’s geographic location is that it’s a selling point in recruiting new teachers, but it’s also a key factor in losing the staff they hire. Elaine Bobo, communications director for Berkeley County Schools, said the school has redesigned recruitment materials to highlight the benefits the area has to offer to out-of-state new hires.

“We recruited for teachers at approximately 15 different recruiting events this past spring in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Delaware,” she said.

Laura Sutton, assistant superintendent and general counsel, said it’s a constant struggle for the district to retain its staff when the promise of higher salaries is close nearby.

“Neighboring counties that offer higher teacher salaries always pose a challenge for us in terms of staffing,” she said.

Sutton went on to say this year’s staffing issue will more than likely mirror staffing vacancies seen in previous years.

“Last year we started with 30 (permanent substitutes),” she said. “This year, we anticipate around 30 again.”

Manny Arvon, superintendent of Berkeley County Schools, said the school would continue its efforts to meet staffing needs for the upcoming school year.

“It’s always our goal to fill every position and as we get closer to the school year,” he said. “We will look at other options to ensure we have a quality educator in each of our classrooms.”

Staff writer Madelyn Dwyer can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 215.

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