- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2007

Prince George’s County will open public schools Monday with about 200 teacher vacancies, but will use qualified substitutes to make sure every classroom has an instructor, officials said.

The school system has filled 1,100 of the 1,300 openings and is in a better situation than last year with roughly 300 vacancies, spokesman John White said.

The county improved the situation largely with a $300,000 advertising campaign to recruit more qualified teachers.

“By starting earlier and competing aggressively, we’ve successfully hired more teachers than in previous years,” Mr. White said. “We have done a good job of making sure there’s a teacher in every classroom, even if it’s a [qualified] substitute, but we’re committed to making that number even smaller.”

He also said education programs in Maryland colleges and universities produce only 2,500 graduates each year, which makes competition for them fierce among school districts.

The starting salary this year for county teachers with a bachelor’s degree is the 205-school system, including charter schools, is $43,000, officials said.

With a projected 134,421students, Prince George’s has the second-largest system in Maryland and the 18th largest in the country.

Other area systems had as many as 1,000 vacancies but none reported more openings than usual.

William Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education, said yesterday some of the school systems’ substitute teachers are not fully certified, but officials are trying to get them credentials “in short order,” as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

He also said the school systems have “utilized a number of efforts to bring teachers into the ranks of certified.” He cited such programs as Teach for America and Troops to Teachers, which helps service members start a new career as teachers.

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee said the system started with 220 vacancies this summer but had filled all but 27 of them as of two weeks ago.

“We feel confident that we will be able to open schools with all the declared vacancies filled,” she said.

Updated numbers were not available this week, said a school spokeswoman. Schools open Aug. 27.

The roughly 55,000-student system pays $42,370 to starting teachers with a bachelor’s degree.

Montgomery County has hired 700 teachers so far and will hire about 50 more in the coming weeks, spokesman Brian Edwards said.

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