MMSD courses go online

MADISON, Wis. – A handful of high school classes are switching to virtual learning in the Madison Metropolitan School District due to teacher shortages.

What do you want to know

  • Currently, the district has over 100 openings across its 53 schools
  • Due to this shortage, short-term and long-term substitutes are replacing
  • But for some classes it doesn’t help

Currently, the district has more than 100 openings in its 53 schools. Madison, like so many other districts in the state and nation, is struggling to fill all of its vacancies.

Due to this shortage, short-term and long-term replacements replace each other. However, for some courses, like language courses, it just doesn’t work.

This led the district to move nine high school classes online. These virtual classes are taught by teachers from Madison Promise Academy, the district’s new online school.

The students experience their school day in the same way. When it’s time for their virtual classroom, they go to the designated classroom, where they are supervised by a staff member. Students receive online instruction on computers.

MMSD spokesperson Tim LeMonds said that by moving these courses online now, students will have the same qualified teacher for the rest of the semester.

“The majority of them are global language type courses, where you need some level of certification to be able to teach these courses,” LeMonds said. “Because of the shortage, these positions are more difficult to find.”

LeMonds said so far they haven’t received much feedback from students and families, positive or negative. He said he had a hunch parents knew the district was doing the best it could with the resources it had.

“We want to be able to provide a rigorous education for all of our students,” LeMonds said. “Through this alternative, we are able to provide our academics with teachers who are licensed and accredited in the field they teach.”

He said they don’t expect to move any other online courses for the rest of the semester. Instead, they focus on hiring the staff they need.

MMSD teachers won a 3% raise after negotiations over the summer. Madison Teachers Inc. was pushing for a 4.7% raise, the maximum allowed by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission.

Other positions will receive an hourly increase of $5. More than 700 teaching assistants, school safety assistants, office staff and food service workers are eligible for this increase across the district.

LeMonds said Superintendent Carlton Jenkins is visiting colleges across the country to recruit new teachers, something the district has never done on such a large scale before.

“I was in his office when he made personal phone calls to teachers across the country to recruit,” LeMonds said.

The goal is to sell the neighborhood, but also to sell the city of Madison as much as possible.

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