AUBURN — Parents of Walton Elementary School students shared concerns Wednesday night with the Auburn School Committee about vacant positions there and the effect on their children’s education.

Principal Meghan Wood will transfer from Walton to Washburn Elementary School to become principal.

Parent Christopher Eugley said when he learned the news, it left him feeling like his two children’s school keeps falling into a pattern in which staff are lost to other city schools, leaving Walton with the “short end of the stick.” He wondered how students’ education might be affected by losing two principals in two years.

Jennifer Frazier, the parent of a fifth grader at Walton, said she is concerned about her son’s class being taught by a long-term substitute. Though she is aware that staffing shortages are plaguing schools nationwide, she worries the situation at Walton could get worse without a principal.

She questioned why the principal position could not be filled by one from another school that might also have a vice principal.

Superintendent Cornelia Brown said later in the meeting that the School Department strives to have one administrator per every 250 students, so elementary schools with an enrollment of more than 250 students will have a principal and vice principal. Walton has roughly 150 students.


There are 10 teacher vacancies across all Auburn schools, Brown said. Of those, three are positions at Sherwood Heights, Walton and Washburn schools. There are also 17 educational technician vacancies, which is a pattern the school department has seen in the last few years. Substitutes are also hard to come by now, she said.

To address many staff vacancies, the department has had to combine classes and use other measures to address them, she said.

“A lot of things have been done to do our … best and make sure that, to what we can, we have not impacted students’  learning,” she said.

There are several classes across all Auburn schools that are being filled by long-term substitutes who are not certified teachers, she said.

Committee member Clarissa Perez-Armendariz said it would be useful to look at last year’s test scores of students in classes led by a long-term substitutes who do not hold a teaching certificate.

Brown said part of her job is to mentor and work with up-and-coming administrators, and she thinks it’s part of her responsibility to let those administrators know when a position is available in another school.


She acknowledged that twice Walton principals have decided to take positions in other city schools.

There principal’s position is being advertised, she said, and department staff are considering other staff who might hold a school administrator degree to possibly fill the position.

For now, there are about three administrators, including Brown, who will spend time at the school to help support teachers and staff, along with addressing issues that come up, Brown said.

“It is very difficult to staff our classrooms the way we would like them to be staffed,” she said. “… Educators are just not out there right now.”

The School Department is also down two bus drivers, Brown said, but there are two with commercial licenses interested in those positions so hopefully they will be filled soon. The department has not had to cancel any bus routes yet, she said.

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