President's Message: Staffing Crisis Could Get Worse Without Action

Last week, I addressed the PPS School Board to convey the seriousness of the workload and staffing crisis we are facing in our schools, across the District, and across the country.

In addition to our regular responsibilities, this year educators are grappling with increased student needs and other pandemic-related demands, while an historic staffing crisis puts impossible demands on every staff member within our district.

Educators have been showing up and doing their best for students every day. However, we are more overwhelmed and stressed than ever before. For most educators, our workload has become untenable.

While PPS must continue to recruit employees to open jobs, we need to acknowledge that we can not hire ourselves out of this worker shortage if PPS does not retain the staff we have.

Since the beginning of the year, PAT members from across the District have shared with us just how overwhelmed and overstretched they are. 

The results of our recent survey illustrate the magnitude of the crisis we have on our hands.

Educators are facing crushing workload levels. More than 80 percent of educators report that their workload is so high they cannot get it done during the work day, and 25 percent said they cannot get their work done no matter how much time they spend on weekends and evenings. 

Educators are experiencing overwhelming stress. 70 percent of PPS educators reported that their stress level is high or severe, and 28 percent reported that their stress level was so severe it’s impacting their health.

I can’t say it strongly enough, this is not normal. And it is not sustainable. If we don’t immediately address the workload-related stress our educators are experiencing, it could decimate our workforce. More than 1,000 educators said they are currently considering taking a leave of absence or resigning, and an additional 400 educators reported that they are considering retiring earlier than they had planned.

If even a fraction of these educators leave the District, we will not be able to operate public school as we know it.

We know these issues are not unique to PPS. And we are also working in collaboration with union leaders in other districts to promote statewide solutions.

The good news is, we do have the opportunity to implement immediate solutions to make THIS YEAR manageable for the experienced educators we already have, while we work toward LONG TERM solutions to make sure a career in education can be fulfilling and sustainable for our current and future workforce. 

You can watch the presentation to the board here, beginning at about minute 50:00.


In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President