With the start of school in metro Atlanta, Dekalb County Schools is implementing an “all hands on deck approach” as they face 400 open teacher vacancies that need to be fully staffed for the 2023-2024 school year. To help cover the vacancies, the district will start a plan that calls for hiring summer graduates as paraprofessionals, extended day and planning period coverage, and district and school-level administrators to serve as teachers.

The plan, dubbed as an “all-hands-on-deck,” already includes having 900 substitutes within the district and utilizing House Bill 385, where retirees are job-sharing in critical areas such as Math, Science, and Special Education.  Instructional specialists who will support classes for up to the first 45 instructional days will receive a $1,500 stipend for the full 45 days of classroom support.  

This plan comes as Superintendent Dr. Devon Horton remarked that this school year will focus on the theme, “Disrupting for Excellence’ beginning with filling teacher vacancies and having a plan for the dwindling teaching population. With an expected 25 percent of teaching staff in Dekalb County Schools will be eligible for retirement within the next couple of years, the district will implement Ignite Dekalb. This teacher residency program will focus on training paraprofessionals to be full-time teachers to combat teacher shortages in 2024. Participants will train for a full year, earn a stipend of $30,000-$35,000, receive their master’s degree, and get put into horizon school within Dekalb County Schools.

The plan does not come without controversy after Dr. Horton announced a plan to hire 70 new administrative positions at a cost of $12 million despite the number of teachers still needed.

In the Back-to-School press conference, Dr. Horton commented, “This is not about stacking central office with administrators for fluff or for fun. This is about putting the resources in place so our schools can have what they need. Over $7.5 million were invested in our schools.”

Dekalb County Schools is scheduled to start school on August 7, 2023.

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