NORFOLK, Va. — Author's note: The video above is on file from a story that aired on October 6, 2022.
As the nation continues to face a widespread shortage of teachers, recent data from the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) shows that several school divisions here in Hampton Roads are especially feeling the strain.
A presentation given to employees of Norfolk Public Schools as they prepare to finalize their 2023-2024 fiscal year budget on February 1 showed a chart that compared the top 20 worst districts for teacher vacancies from 2021 to 2022.
In total, seven local school divisions made the list.
The school division with the highest vacancy rate: Southampton County saw its rate skyrocket from 5.64 in 2021 to the highest in the state just one year later, at 20.83.
Coming in at number three was Portsmouth City Schools, which saw an increased vacancy rate from 10.64 to 16.48 between 2021 and 2022.
Norfolk City Schools technically saw a decrease, but they are still one of the worst in the state, with a rate that went from 17.12 to 15.18.
Franklin City Public Schools saw the biggest drop overall, going from 31.90 in 2021 to 12.95 in 2022; still high, but a trend in the right direction.
Other local school divisions like Newport News Public Schools, Suffolk City Schools, and Sussex County Public Schools also made the list.
In October, The National Education Association said to keep teachers in the classroom, changes have to be made.
Nationally, educators are leaving the profession in record numbers.
According to a survey by the NEA, 55% of educators are considering leaving the classroom earlier than planned. That number is on top of the holes school divisions are already trying to fill.
Also that month, the "Become A Teacher" campaign that was launched with the VDOE included proposals for military veterans, those with non-teaching degrees and teachers licensed in other states to get permission to teach in Virginia.