City has critical shortgage of teachers, board says

October 08, 1990|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Evening Sun Staff

The city and four rural counties have been singled out as areas with an "extraordinary shortage" of teachers under a state program that uses scholarship aid to help attract teachers.

Also, the state Board of Education has declared a critical shortage of teachers overall in the areas of mathematics, science, special education and trades and industry.

Those actions came as the board received predictions of a more than 300-teacher shortfall statewide in the 1991-1992 school year.

The board declarations were part of an annual board resolution that names subjects and geographical regions that are the focus of a special scholarship program, enacted in 1984.

In exchange for teaching in Maryland for a certain period of time, students receive tuition aid for going into a field where there is a teacher shortage. The time period is reduced for students who agree to work in part of the state where there are chronic teacher shortages. This year's list includes Baltimore City and Caroline, Garrett, Somerset and St. Mary's counties.

Among the factors used to determine whether an area has a critical shortage is a high turnover rate, low salaries, relatively low per-student school spending and social and economic factors.

The report received by the board said:

* A total of 2,594 teachers were hired in Maryland last year, up from 2,435 the year before.

* Personnel directors predict they will be able to hire 96 fewer special education teachers this school year than the 424 they will need, the biggest single shortfall.

* Officials predict an overall shortage of 332 teachers next year, and say 148 of the vacant slots will be in special education.

* Although there is a shortage of teachers in chemistry, earth science, physical science and physics, there is no apparent shortage of biology teachers. The report said that Maryland colleges and universities turned out 33 biology teachers in the 1989-1990 school year, compared with a total of 37 in all other certified areas of science.

* The total number of minority teachers in state public schools dropped slightly in the past year, while minority enrollments increased.

"The trend is consistent with trends in many other states, especially in the Northeast, South, Southwest and West," the report said.

But the report also found an increase in the number of minority teacher applicants and in the number of new hires statewide.

"This is encouraging, as the minority school-age population continues to increase as well," the report said.

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