The buzz around a new school year is already present.
Summer school projects and renovations are nearing completion and staffing issues are being addressed.
“We’re ready to have kids in the building. Well, I am. I should not say that for others,” said Southwestern Consolidated Schools superintendent Josh Edwards.
Northwestern Consolidated Schools superintendent Chris Hoke said confidently school could start today at all three Triton Central schools if needed.
There are still staff openings in all four Shelby County school systems but many have been filled recently including Shelbyville Central Schools hiring a new high school principal and elementary school principal.
On Friday, Shelby County’s largest school system announced Amy Dawson as the new principal at Shelbyville High School. She was previously the associate principal at New Palestine High School.
Also, Hendricks Elementary School teacher Nicole Terrell was named the new principal at Coulston Elementary School.
That filled two key administrative positions for SCS who is now under the direction of new superintendent Dr. Matt Vance.
According to the school system’s website, there are still teaching vacancies at the elementary school level, the middle school and the high school.
“The candidate pools are as small as I ever remember it being,” said Hoke.
Finding viable candidates is a challenging task for all schools systems. Northwestern Consolidated Schools is in good shape with just one added special education position still to be filled.
“Even if it goes unfilled, we would still be at the same head count as last year,” said Hoke. “Our experience is not the norm. I know because I have talked to other superintendents.”
Edwards, preparing for his first full school year as superintendent of the Southwestern school system, praised junior high/high school principal John Tindall and new elementary school principal Beth Hoeing for finding qualified staff.
Edwards stated there is one opening left to fill in each school.
“The principals have done an awesome job hiring,” said Edwards. “We were able to pass on people, we’re not just throwing people in there. We have people that fit what we are thinking.”
Still, Edwards sees a smaller pool of candidates seeking teaching positions each year.
“Usually you would have to weed out applicants,” he said. “This year, we used a lot of recruiting and a lot of word of mouth. Our job fair brought a lot of candidates to our school. We left no stone unturned. It’s really exciting to see all the new faces.”
With smaller candidate pools, Hoke sees the trend of hiring professionals seeking a career change continuing in the future.
“The practical reality is you have to think about it,” said Hoke, who did not start his career in education. “You are hiring people, not just a piece of paper. It’s important and critical.
“If they are not licensed, we get them into a licensure program and get them working toward that.”
Shelby Eastern Schools, which includes Morristown and Waldron, has several teaching openings listed on its website, both at the elementary and junior high/high school levels, including a Language Arts teacher at Waldron High School and a Spanish teacher at Morristown High School.
In addition to teaching positions that need to be filled, area school systems also need to fill custodial, food service and bus driving positions.
Students in the Southwestern and Triton Central school systems return to their respective buildings on Aug. 2. Shelby Eastern and Shelbyville students start one day later on Aug. 3.