by Joseph Sweeney | editor-in-chief
After a year of remote learning, sophomore Emily Staples was ready for more of a normal school year. But in one of her classes, it was anything but normal.
“[An elective teacher] never showed up,” Staples said. “They kept telling us he was going to come back at some point. And he never did. It was just kind of worksheets and a bunch of subs.”
Staples is not alone in this experience. In the past year, a shortage in teachers has been reported throughout Texas. While at Johnson, turnover rates among teachers have remained mostly constant, there was an increase during the 2020-2021 school year according to Principal Gary Comalander.
“If a teacher has to resign during the year, that has to go through HR, which is the overseer of employment for the district,” Comalander said. “Sometimes emergencies happen, teachers have to leave. Sometimes a spouse gets a new job in another city. Things do happen.”
School districts around the city have responded to turnover by raising teacher salaries. San Antonio ISD’s board of trustees recently voted to grant all teachers a 3% raise, while Northside ISD has implemented $1,500 sign-on bonuses for bilingual teachers.
“Obviously, for education, you don’t want to lose them from August to May, but it happens and we deal with it,” Comalander said. “Sometimes you get lucky and we find a good replacement in two or three weeks and sometimes we have to wait for the semester to find somebody.”
Teachers may resign from their contract consequence-free 45 days before the start of school or between semesters. If they resign during any other time their teaching certificate may be revoked by their institution.
“We very rarely lose teachers in the fall,” Comalander said. “Usually it’s either at the end of the first semester, where we might lose a couple teachers or it’s at the end of the year.”
A school district’s human resources department also has a say when a teacher resigns, however; depending on their reasons for resignation, such as those who are moving, seeking medical attention or taking another job in education, their teaching credentials may be safe.
As for students, while their courses and credits will not be jeopardized by a teacher’s departure, curriculum is expected to continue. Junior Matthew Knight experienced something similar to Staples, but in a core class.
“We have a long term sub that’s gonna do it for the rest of the year,” Knight said. “She’s doing her best, but it’s a little weird, just kind of transferring teachers.”
While substitutes can fill a vacancy for an extended period of time, they are only able to assign and grade work if they are certified to teach the subject itself. In the case they are not certified, those responsibilities fall to the academic deans and department heads.
“Students aren’t gonna lose credit. We don’t collapse the class for the year,” Comalander said. “The lessons and the grading could be through the dean/department head, it could be the team. If there’s four teachers teaching English, they’re going to have all those lessons to provide to the substitute and work together to get the grades done.”