Most schools, including SAD 51, are hiring for the 2022-2023 school year over the summer and are hoping to fill the many vacancies they struggled with last year. Rachel Vitello / The Forecaster

With more resignations than normal during a difficult school year and more job openings than usual this summer, it’s unclear whether local schools will be fully staffed come September.

The Cumberland-North Yarmouth district has significant shortages in special education, including teachers, specialists and ed techs, according to School Administrative District 51 Superintendent Jeff Porter.

“(T)he end of the school year left many exhausted and worn out from such a difficult year,” Porter said. “It’s the first year I can remember when several staff members resigned during the course of the school year instead of waiting until the end of the year.”

He attributed those unusual resignations to “the stressful environment caused by the lack of staff and the concerns around the continuing pandemic and close proximity of hundreds of people in a school building.”

The district has made good progress on filling teaching positions, Porter said, but it has seen few applicants for the 20 ed tech vacancies.

In Yarmouth, Superintendent Andrew Dolloff said the district has made just under 30 new hires for the coming school year, including teachers, counselors and administrators, and there are several more to make in the coming weeks. Usually, it hires 15-18 people over a summer to fill vacancies, he said.


“The vast majority of these are classroom teaching positions that were made vacant by retirements or resignations. This is about twice our normal count for annual hirings,” Dolloff said.

“Additionally, we are hiring another two dozen support personnel, like bus drivers, educational techs, school nutrition workers, custodians, secretaries, who are also replacing departed employees for the most part,” he said. “We do have a few new positions, additional custodians and teachers for pre-kindergarten and world language, being added to the mix.”

A shortage of substitute teachers is also an ongoing concern, Dolloff said. On a daily basis over the past school year, staff members had to give up their planning time to help cover for absent colleagues.

“I told our staff on the final day of school that we have to be one of the few districts in Maine that went through this entire school year without any of our schools having to resort to remote learning for a single day,” Dolloff said. “That was a remarkable feat only made possible by incredible efforts by our staff and volunteers from the community.”

SAD 51 hired eight permanent substitutes for the last school year, Porter said, but many staff members still had to fill in to cover classrooms and other duties.

“We need more substitutes in order to avoid the daily shortages we lived with all last year. Substitutes, so far, continue to be a serious shortage area for next year,” Porter said.

“The key will be whether or not COVID will continue to keep our staff absence rates at high levels or if the pandemic’s grip subsides so we can return to more typical and predictable absence patterns,” he said. “I’m hopeful we’ll see healthier staff and students next year and we can avoid the disruptions caused by illness and absences.”

The Falmouth school district has 20 openings, according to its website, including six substitutes for K-12, lunch aides, child care, nurses, food service, and one long-term sub for third grade, as well as three ed tech openings.

North Yarmouth Academy is hiring a Spanish teacher in the upper school and two teaching assistants in the lower school. According to Head of School Ben Jackson, NYA’s retirements and departures have stayed consistent.

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