Desoto County NewsMississippi News

Teacher shortages remain, but more vacancies are being filled

DeSoto County Schools Teacher Career Fair set for late February

A new report details what has been a continuing problem for Mississippi schools: a shortage of teachers to fill the classrooms.  However, the new report said the number of vacancies are fewer than a year ago.  

The Mississippi Department of Education’s report is called the Educator Shortage Survey. It began in August 2022 and ended in November with all of the state’s public schools responding to it.  The survey collected numbers of teacher, administrator, and school support staff vacancies along with district-generated shortage strategies.

The good news is that, statewide, the shortage of teachers, administrators and staff is not as large as it was one year ago..  

Mississippi schools were short 2,593 teachers in the opening weeks of this school year during the survey period, which is 411 fewer than the 2021-22 school year. There are 2,111 vacancies in K-12 support staff, such as teacher assistants, nurses, custodians, bus drivers, food service staff, and administrative assistants. 

Schools in the state were short 82 administrators and 202 Licensed Educators, such as library staff, counselors, and speech/language educators. Those numbers were all lower than the previous school year.  

The MDE report also broke down teacher vacancies by Congressional districts. In the First District, where DeSoto County is located, the survey found 454 teacher vacancies, an increase of 178 from the previous school year.  

DeSoto County Schools Supt. Cory Uselton told DeSoto County News there are teacher shortages in the state’s largest public school district.  

“The main shortage areas are mathematics and special education in our middle schools and high schools,” Uselton said. “We were fortunate to be able to hire several teachers at the beginning of the second semester.”

When there are openings, Uselton said the school implements one of a number of strategies to fill the need. It could range from using a certified long-term substitute teacher, combining class sections, or using school-level instructional coaches to teach.  

“While these strategies help, these are not ideal situations,” Uselton said. “Even though principals may use one of these strategies, they are always seeking certified teachers to fill openings on their campus.”

While fewer students are enrolling in education programs at colleges and universities, resulting in fewer applicants to choose from, Uselton feels the compensation package DCS offers makes teaching in the district more attractive.  

“DeSoto County Schools has increased the local teaching supplement by $2,000 since 2018,” Uselton explained. “Now, every DeSoto County Schools teacher receives at least $5,000 per year from our local district supplement.  Our board members and I made this a priority several years ago, and we hope to continue with incremental increases to the local supplement in upcoming years.”

Uselton said he has also talked with local legislators to support a program similar to Tennessee and Arkansas, where retired teachers can return to the classroom while still drawing retirement benefits.  

In an effort to build for the future, the district has also instituted a Teacher Academy at Career Tech Center-East in Olive Branch to introduce high school students to education careers with hopes they’ll enter the career and return to DeSoto County to teach after earning education degrees in college.  

DCS is already in the process of hiring teachers for the 2023-24 school year and is planning a Teacher Career Fair at the Landers Center on Tuesday, Feb. 28, from 2-4 p.m.  Those interested in learning more about teaching in DeSoto County Schools should submit the following registration link:

You can view the MDE Educator Shortage Survey here.  

One thought on “Teacher shortages remain, but more vacancies are being filled

  • A teacher right out of college can barely afford to live in Desoto County. Uselton brags about $2000 raise over the last 5 years. What a joke.


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