Schools seek to fill vacant employee spots

Last year, shortly before September 1, Latvia's schools were 2,000 teachers short. At the moment, one and a half months before the new school year, school and kindergarten leaders are still hoping to find teaching staff, but the number of vacancies is high, Zemgale regional television reported July 11.

The educational institutions of Valmiera municipality have free 5.5 rates for support staff, such as psychologist, social worker, special educator, speech therapist, while 15 rates are vacant for teachers.

"We are growing in numbers and quite strong, and we therefore lack the capacity of existing teachers. There is a shortage of English teachers, math teachers, Latvian, and so on,” said Andrejs Gluhovs, principal of Valmiera 2nd High School.

Jelgava also has a similar situation.

“At this point, we have information about four schools that lack teachers and one preschool institution, but I can certainly say that the data will change because there are educators who are currently thinking about staying in their previous job or looking for another one. We will know this in August,” explained Vivita Eiklone, spokeswoman for Jelgava Municipality Education Administration.

School principals said that the so-called black lists where teachers are lacking most urgently still include science, especially in chemistry and physics, and programming. Vacancies for Latvian and literature teachers are also topical.

In an attempt to attract teachers to municipalities, they develop different bonus and motivational support systems.

“We're attracting the new teachers with stipends starting at year 2 [of teacher education],” Valmiera Municipality Education Management Head Iveta Pāže said.

“It is health insurance, and we also give teachers who learn in one of the universities, tuition compensation,” said Eiklone, spokeswoman for Jelgava Municipality Education Administration.

Schools and municipalities have pointed out that by September there is still time to fill the missing vacancies, and if this fails, solutions will be sought by increasing loads for working educators, merging classes, or outsourcing; in the worst case, the specific subject will simply not be taught.

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