Education Dept. has teaching vacancies left to fill as students return for new school year
By The Star Staff
While 95% of the teachers showed up for work Monday in preparation for the start of the school year on Wednesday, the island Department of Education acknowledged it has yet to fill teaching vacancies.
“Concerning the preparation for the next school year, the Office of Human Resources and the educational regions continue working to fill vacancies that are difficult to recruit, ensuring the full presence of teachers in the classrooms,” an agency statement said.
Education Secretary-designate Yanira Raíces Vega nonetheless expressed her satisfaction with the outstanding attendance of teachers on their first day of work, with 95 percent participation of teachers and adjacent staff recorded in the island’s 856 public schools.
School principals reported 97 percent attendance, while 93 percent of other teaching staff showed up. In addition, as reported by the STAR on Monday, security personnel are at 100% and maintenance staff have been called and are performing their duties with 95 percent attendance, the agency said.
“I am pleased to see such high attendance on this first day of work, which reflects our teachers’ deep commitment to education,” Raíces Vega said. “It is gratifying to know that our school communities are actively preparing to welcome our students back on Wednesday. We are completely focused on promoting academic progress in all schools and providing our teachers with all the necessary tools to educate our boys, girls and youth.”
She rejected complaints from the Puerto Rico Teachers Association, who said the designated secretary was unwilling to participate in a dialogue and work as a team with the main teachers’ union.
“I have always maintained an open attitude to dialogue and collaboration. I have constantly communicated with the Teachers Association, presenting our progress and work plans,” Raíces Vega said. “Although some of the concerns raised have already been addressed, I will carefully review your report and take the necessary actions.”
The secretary also shared important advances in school infrastructure.
“Currently, 72 percent of our schools have already been painted both inside and out,” she said. “The remaining 28 percent are in different stages of infrastructure initiatives, such as bids, designs and the contracting of work.”