EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Right before the new school year got underway, 12 News sent a five-question survey to every superintendent in Rhode Island to get a sense of how their district is doing and the biggest challenges they’re facing.

Our survey revealed nearly 80% of public school districts are experiencing a staffing shortage to some degree. Each district’s shortage is different, but the central theme is clear: most districts can’t find all the staff they need.

  • Question:Are you experiencing a staffing shortage with teachers or support staff?
  • Question:What’s being done to hire/retain teachers in your district?
  • Question:How many layoff notices has your district sent out for the 2022-23 school year?

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Here are the superintendents’ responses in full:

Question: Are you experiencing a staffing shortage with teachers or support staff?

School District (Superintendent)Response
Barrington (Michael Messore)We are not experiencing a staff shortage of teachers or support staff. We are hiring for all positions. There are some positions that are always a challenge to fill in any school year. Staffing support staff from outside agencies is challenging.
Bristol-Warren (Ana Riley)No response
Burrillville (Michael Sollitto)No shortage in staffing. A few positions left to fill and interviews are ongoing.
Central Falls (Stephanie Downey Toledo)Yes.
Chariho (Gina Picard)We have a need for Teacher Assistants and Custodians. At this time we have approximately 7 open teaching positions, but we have managed to have applicants for most of them.
Coventry (Craig Levis)I believe we will be fully staffed for the opening of the 2022-2023 school year. The challenge will be replacing staff throughout the year if we experience any lingering impact from the pandemic as the year progresses. Securing substitutes is much more competitive.
Cranston (Jeannine Nota Masse)Certain areas are difficult to find certified teachers (i.e. math, science, technology) and we need more paraprofessionals.
Cumberland (Phil Thornton)We are experiencing staffing challenges, particularly in special education.
East Greenwich (Brian G. Ricca)We are short a handful of paraeducators and a few licensed positions at this time.
East Providence (Sandra Forand)As of now, we do not feel as if we are experiencing a staffing shortage. We currently have 11 vacancies in the area of certified staff. Most are due to recent resignations or movement of positions. We have qualified applicants to interview for all but one position.
Exeter-West Greenwich (James Erinakes)At this point, we are on target to have all positions filled. We are anticipating a continuation of substitute shortages for both certified and non-certified positions.
Foster (Dr. Michael Barnes)We are fortunate to have great staff, teachers, students, parents, and a supportive community. This makes our district a desirable place to learn and teach. Notwithstanding these positive conditions, over the past few years we have had difficulties hiring a sufficient number of substitute teachers and substitute support staff. While we have been fortunate to hire well-qualified people for our permanent teaching and support staff positions, the number of candidates who apply for positions in education has significantly diminished over the past years in our district and statewide. Moreover, a number of applicants for posted positions do not meet minimum qualifications necessary to be certified by the State of Rhode Island and/or to perform the functions of the position. As the number of applicants has decreased statewide we are seeing more movement of teachers and staff from district-to-district increasing the number of vacancies.
Foster-Glocester (Renee Palazzo)No response
Glocester (Patricia Dubois)Not at the present moment.
Jamestown (Ken Duva, Ed.D.)We are 100% staffed for certified personnel, however we are still hiring for teacher assistants.
Johnston (Bernard DiLullo Jr.)When we only have a few open positions, they are in high-need areas such as math and special education.
Lincoln (Dr. Lawrence Filippelli)No
Little Compton (Dr. Laurie Dias-Mitchell)We are fully staffed, with no current openings for permanent positions.
Middletown (Rosemarie K. Kraeger)Yes, in a few areas: career tech educators, bus drivers and monitors, food service workers and teacher assistants.
Narragansett (Dr. Peter Cummings)We are experiencing shortages in mathematics teaching positions. We also have a shortage of bus drivers and other support staff.
Newport (Colleen Burns Jermain, Ed.D.)Yes. Math and STEM positions are very difficult to fill at this time.
New Shoreham (Robert Gerardi)Our annual staff challenge is in the area of having enough substitutes.
North Kingstown (Michael Waterman)We anticipate having all of our classroom teaching positions filled for the start of the school year. We do have openings with our support staff and teacher assistants.
North Providence (Joseph Goho)Yes, we are experiencing a shortage in typically hard to fill teaching positions such as high school math, but also an acute shortage of paraprofessional applicants.
North Smithfield (Michael St. Jean)We currently a full staff for the 22/23 school year.
Pawtucket (Dr. Cheryl McWilliams)There are challenges with staffing due to the many job opportunities for prospective employees. We are still looking to hire some teachers and a few support staff. Areas of need are mathematics and science, particularly at the secondary level.
Portsmouth (Thomas Kenworthy)We have been able to fill about 75% of our vacancies and are working to fill the rest.
Providence (Dr. Javier Montañez)The shortage of education workers is a nationwide issue, and Providence is no exception. We have seen many more teachers retire or resign since the start of the pandemic, just like the rest of the country.
Scituate (Laurie Andries)Yes in both areas. We are also experiencing staff shortages in bus monitors and custodians.
Smithfield (Dawn Bartz)It is difficult to hire certain specialized teachers as districts across the state are vying for the same pool of applicants. Overall, we are doing well and our classrooms have certified teachers however we are still searching for a Library/Media Specialist, paraprofessionals for our kindergarten classes. Over the last year, we lost 3 CTE teachers, who are very hard to replace because of the state requirements of having 3 years in industry and teacher certification. Two left the teaching profession and 1 retired.
South Kingstown (Mark Prince)No response
Tiverton (Peter Sanchioni)No
Warwick (Lynn Dambruch)No more than any other year. We have vacancies that are being filled as we do every summer. However, staffing cuts were made due to enrollment and budgetary constraints.
Westerly (Mark Garceau)We are most challenged by finding bus drivers, paraprofessionals and mental health support personnel.
West Warwick (Karen Tarasevich)Yes, we have had trouble for a several years now in certain content areas (math, science). However, in the past few years we are seeing shortages in all content and related service provider pools of qualified/certified candidates.
Woonsocket (Patrick McGee)We continue to have difficulty filling positions such as paraprofessionals and substitute teachers as well as bilingual Speech and Language Pathologists, Social Workers, and Psychologists.

Question: What’s being done to hire/retain teachers in your district?

School District (Superintendent)Response
Barrington (Michael Messore)Zero
Bristol-Warren (Ana Riley)No response
Burrillville (Michael Sollitto)We have posted anticipated positions early to get a head start on the process.
Central Falls (Stephanie Downey Toledo)Collaborating with agencies to get teachers from around the world to come work for us.
Chariho (Gina Picard)We are actively recruiting and using social media to highlight positions. We have also reached out to our local colleges.
Coventry (Craig Levis)I believe one of the greatest recruitment tools is to provide support to all of the teacher preparation programs. We try and find an appropriate cooperating teacher for all student teacher and practicum requests. I believe school culture is another factor in determining what district a teacher candidate will land. Coventry Public Schools has a strong culture of collaboration between administration and union leadership. There are numerous opportunities throughout our school community where teacher voice and leadership is supported and encouraged. A recent performance audit conducted on Coventry Public Schools during the pandemic. 84% of the employees indicated Coventry Public Schools is a great place to work. 87% of the employees indicated they can make a career in Coventry Public Schools. I believe this is a result of the positive culture we have worked hard to establish in our school community.
Cranston (Jeannine Nota Masse)Trying to be competitive with salary offers.
Cumberland (Phil Thornton)The district is advertising in all for hire venues and reaching out to other parts of the state via word of mouth.
East Greenwich (Brian G. Ricca)Currently, we are trying to compress the timeline from initial interview to meeting the superintendent to avoid applicants slipping through our fingers to go to other districts.
East Providence (Sandra Forand)We are posting and interviewing immediately in order to fill vacant positions.
Exeter-West Greenwich (James Erinakes)We have worked with our local university partner to help fill some harder to fill positions (part time or partial year), we budgeted high for other hard to fill certification areas and advertised early, allowing us to higher replacements at higher/top step for these areas. We have increased sub pay to attract a broader pool of individuals.
Foster (Dr. Michael Barnes)We have repeatedly advertised to seek the most qualified candidates to meet student needs. We have also worked our network expand the pool of available candidates for positions. We have teacher leaders who serve as instructional coaches to support new and experienced teachers within our district. The positive school culture that exists between and among teachers and staff has been the most effective factor in retaining teachers within our district.
Foster-Glocester (Renee Palazzo)No response
Glocester (Patricia Dubois)We maintain a collaborative and cooperative working environment in which all staff feel supported.
Jamestown (Ken Duva, Ed.D.)Fortunately, we currently have all of our certified positions covered for this school year. We have been actively networking and reaching out to our community to hire qualified applicants for one to one teaching positions. We are also continuing to hire qualified applicants to be substitute teachers and substitute support staff for our district. Anyone interested in working for the Jamestown Schools may contact Janette Warner at Warner.janette@jamestownschools.org.
Johnston (Bernard DiLullo Jr.)The district is moving into the second year of a contract with teachers where three years of salary increases have been offered. Teachers received a 2% increase in year 1 and 3% increases in years 2 and 3. We utilize SchoolSpring to advertise open positions and quickly bring promising candidates in for interviews. Offers of employment are made as quickly as possible for appropriately certified teachers following reference review.
Lincoln (Dr. Lawrence Filippelli)We have a robust applicant pool in Lincoln and teachers typically don’t leave once hired unless they are retiring.
Little Compton (Dr. Laurie Dias-Mitchell)With one of the best workplaces in public education that is also located within the caring and supportive community of Little Compton, both the hiring and the retention of teachers have not been challenges at all.
Middletown (Rosemarie K. Kraeger)Middletown provides strong professional development opportunities for our staff.
Narragansett (Dr. Peter Cummings)We have a robust recruiting program and began our hiring process in February. We also work closely with our teachers and support personnel to ensure that we collaboratively address the needs of our students, faculty, and staff.
Newport (Colleen Burns Jermain, Ed.D.)Reaching out to different universities, RIDE, our staff and retired teachers for ideas and personnel.
New Shoreham (Robert Gerardi)A concern is affordable housing for our employees and the Town of New Shoreham has an active committee working on that issue.
North Kingstown (Michael Waterman)All of our support staff salaries were recently increased through contract negotiations and we are currently in contract negotiations with our teachers.
North Providence (Joseph Goho)Various methods of internet-based advertising, primarily SchoolSpring.com.
North Smithfield (Michael St. Jean)No changes needed as we are fully staffed for the coming year.
Pawtucket (Dr. Cheryl McWilliams)We advertise and are networking with colleges and other professional organizations.
Portsmouth (Thomas Kenworthy)Portsmouth is a desirable district to work in and we try to market that as much as possible in addition to ensuring that we are competitive with wages and benefits.
Providence (Dr. Javier Montañez)For hiring:
– We now have sign-on bonuses of up to $10,000
– We also have up to $25,000 in loan forgiveness for up to 25 teachers of color thanks to funding from the Rhode Island Foundation
– Started a new employee referral program, where current PPSD employees can get $500 if they refer someone who gets hired
– We conduct open interviews weekly to support principals with filling their open classrooms

For retention:
– We now provide up to $8,000 for teachers to get ESL certified
– Created the Superintendent’s Teacher Cabinet, which will meet at least monthly to give teachers more of a voice
– Just announced a Johnson and Wales partnership where PPSD staff can get 50% off their Master’s degree, and $15,000 off their doctorate
– We have teacher ambassadors in each school to help early career teachers
– Running a 2-week teacher academy in August for new teachers
Scituate (Laurie Andries)We are reaching out to our substitutes, local universities, multiple postings.
Smithfield (Dawn Bartz)We advertise extensively, work with the colleges and universities, are part of job fairs and we use word of mouth to recruit. We value our teachers and let them know it. We hope that working in supportive environments and providing recognition will help with teacher retention. In this area, we are very fortunate as we have many veteran teachers and administrators.
South Kingstown (Mark Prince)No response
Tiverton (Peter Sanchioni)Creating a welcoming culture, providing mental health support through our insurance carrier, working on enhancing our contract.
Warwick (Lynn Dambruch)We are advertising on our website and SchoolSpring and recalling laid-off teachers.
Westerly (Mark Garceau)We are competitive with compensation and are active and aggressive in our efforts to attract and retain the best available candidates.
West Warwick (Karen Tarasevich)We try to encourage people to come work with us by providing extensive professional development opportunities in not only content areas, but social emotional and mental health areas.
Woonsocket (Patrick McGee)We regularly reach out to local colleges and universities. We also provide mentors for all teachers and staff who are new to our district as well as instructional coaches who provide support and guidance around the curriculum and pedagogy.

Question: How many layoff notices has your district sent out for the 2022-23 school year?

School District (Superintendent)Response
Barrington (Michael Messore)We are not experiencing a staff shortage of teachers or support staff. We are hiring for all positions. There are some positions that are always a challenge to fill in any school year. Staffing support staff from outside agencies is challenging.
Bristol-Warren (Ana Riley)No response
Burrillville (Michael Sollitto)All layoffs were rescinded.
Central Falls (Stephanie Downey Toledo)0
Chariho (Gina Picard)2
Coventry (Craig Levis)We had five layoffs this year.
Cranston (Jeannine Nota Masse)In spring we gave approximately 27 notices, HOWEVER all but 2 have been recalled to positions in the district.
Cumberland (Phil Thornton)We currently have two certified teachers on layoff.
East Greenwich (Brian G. Ricca)I don’t have that information.
East Providence (Sandra Forand)16 – 4 left on the recall list
Exeter-West Greenwich (James Erinakes)1 (it was a one-year only position in a very specific certification area, and the individual who was on leave is returning)
Foster (Dr. Michael Barnes)We sent out 2 lay-off notices for the 2022-2023 school year. We continued with the positions and sought teachers to fill both positions.
Foster-Glocester (Renee Palazzo)No response
Glocester (Patricia Dubois)0
Jamestown (Ken Duva, Ed.D.)3
Johnston (Bernard DiLullo Jr.)Approximately 30 layoff notices were sent out before March 1, 2022, for school year 2022-2023. All laid-off teachers have been recalled, however.
Lincoln (Dr. Lawrence Filippelli)0
Little Compton (Dr. Laurie Dias-Mitchell)0
Middletown (Rosemarie K. Kraeger)10 layoff notices were sent
Narragansett (Dr. Peter Cummings)We cut 2 positions for the 22-23 school year.
Newport (Colleen Burns Jermain, Ed.D.)We sent out a few and have recalled all teachers.
New Shoreham (Robert Gerardi)We did not send out layoff notices this year.
North Kingstown (Michael Waterman)We did not have any layoffs due to positions being cut.
North Providence (Joseph Goho)0
North Smithfield (Michael St. Jean)9
Pawtucket (Dr. Cheryl McWilliams)We have not had any layoff notices this year, nor the previous year.
Portsmouth (Thomas Kenworthy)0
Providence (Dr. Javier Montañez)0
Scituate (Laurie Andries)All teachers were recalled.
Smithfield (Dawn Bartz)We do not plan to issue any layoff notices.
South Kingstown (Mark Prince)No response
Tiverton (Peter Sanchioni)0
Warwick (Lynn Dambruch)4 teachers, 1 computer tech, and 5 teacher assistants
Westerly (Mark Garceau)We offered retirement incentives that made layoffs to teaching staff unnecessary.
West Warwick (Karen Tarasevich)Just one.
Woonsocket (Patrick McGee)Five, however they were all rescinded.

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