Gwinnett hires record numbers of teachers but struggles with substitutes

Gwinnett County Public Schools has hired 2,611 teachers so far this school year, 725 more than it hired at this point last year.

“In the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of a ‘Great Resignation,’ our team continues to support our teachers and hire at record numbers,” said Monica Batiste, the district’s associate superintendent for human resources and talent management, during a Thursday school board meeting.

But the pandemic has made hiring and retaining substitute teachers difficult, district spokeswoman Sloan Roach said. To help with recruiting substitutes, the district raised their pay for the duration of the pandemic and is offering a bonus for new hires.

Across the country, many school districts are struggling with teacher shortages amid a surge in coronavirus cases due to the omicron variant. In early January, metro Atlanta schools were battling to remain open due to high staff absences. Many employees adopted new roles to make sure schools could operate.

Batiste provides the school board a monthly report on district staffing. According to past reports, hiring this school year is outpacing hiring in each of the past four years.

The district has hired 1,361 new teachers and 1,250 teachers who used to work in the district since school started in August. In total, about 12,500 teachers work in Gwinnett, the largest school district in Georgia.

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While the district has had success hiring, there are still staffing gaps.

The district has 105 teaching vacancies, 21 more than last year.

There are also 145 paraprofessional vacancies. Paraprofessionals help with teaching, supervising and caring for special needs students.