The Frederick County Board of Education will host a public work session Monday to discuss understaffing across the system and the impact it’s having on students and staff.
Board member Liz Barrett pitched the discussion at the beginning of Wednesday’s meeting, originally asking her colleagues to add it to the agenda for that evening.
What followed was a terse back-and-forth over board procedures and scheduling, with several members advocating for a separate meeting to tackle the issue. Barrett responded with obvious frustration.
“The roof is on fire right now,” she said. “I don’t know how to make this any clearer.”
Eventually, all seven board members besides Barrett and David Bass voted to approve Wednesday’s agenda without the additional discussion item.
Staffing issues have plagued FCPS and school systems around the country during the return to in-person learning. It’s resulted in low morale among the employees who do show up, Barrett argued.
During her comments at the end of the meeting, Barrett read an email she’d received from an FCPS teacher. The instructor described a classroom full of students with differing needs — some with disabilities, some learning English, some struggling with math.
The teacher had an assigned interventionist who was supposed to help support those students, but they were constantly pulled out of the classroom to sub, the email said. The teacher described feeling “crushed” watching students struggle on quarterly tests because they hadn’t received adequate support.
Barrett said gathering input from system staff on possible solutions to staffing woes was “urgent.” She asked FCPS Superintendent Terry Alban to organize outreach to teachers, administrators, food service workers, bus drivers and more in the coming days, asking them what the board could do to support them.
“I would just love to see the community weigh in right now,” she said.
The meeting will take place 6 p.m. Monday in the boardroom at 191 East St. Community members will be invited to give public comment.