The Guam Department of Education needs dozens more teachers this school year.
“According to Human Resources, there are 24 classroom teacher vacancies at this time in elementary; there are 17 classroom teacher vacancies at this time in secondary; and there are 22 classroom teacher vacancies at this time in high school,” GDOE Superintendent Jon Fernandez said. “This is a total of 63 vacancies, and this includes both face-to-face and online teachers.”
That's more than the nine that was originally reported earlier in the school year. But it's still a much smaller number than the 300 to 400 teacher vacancies that Guam Federation of Teachers Union President Tim Fidenko estimated in August.
Towards the end of August, GDOE responded to The Guam Daily Post's inquiry regarding teacher vacancies, Fernandez reported seven online teacher vacancies at the elementary level and two online teacher vacancies for high school. These vacancies were identified by school principals for recruitment, according to Fernandez. That count, however, did not include vacancies for face-to-face teachers.
“The number of vacancies are based on the existing staffing pattern which, prior to the pandemic, served 28,000 students. However, we are currently recording an unofficial count of 26,000 students,” Fernandez said.
This means that GDOE may have the opportunity to address vacancies by cross-leveling teachers and maximizing classrooms due to lower enrollment. Enrollment numbers, however, are still preliminary and an official count of students will take place at the end of September.
“To cover these vacancies, limited-term substitutes are used to cover classes until a hire is made. Additionally, the department allows teachers to voluntarily teach during their respective prep times in order to help cover a vacant class until such time a hire is made,” Fernandez said. “Teachers who do so are compensated based on their hourly rate.”
If teachers are helping to "cover" classes during their prep time, then they must seek formal approval from the superintendent to be compensated for that coverage.
Currently, middle school teachers are teaching four face-to-face classes and one period is dedicated to online learning students, but they won’t be receiving any additional compensation for teaching both models of learning.
Under the GFT union contract, these teachers will not see additional compensation because the class size or number of students the teacher has remains the same, officials said.
As of Aug. 27, GDOE had 1,993 teachers and school based staff employed with the department.