Schools Hesitant To Hire Replacements For Retiring Teachers

Governor Haley Barbour is backing an initiative to attract teachers, but if people decide to take the offer, it's not clear if the jobs they're seeking will even be there.

Right now according to the Mississippi American Federation of Teachers there are about 1,500 teaching jobs that could be filled. However, with no definite education budget, many superintendents are tentative about replacing retiring teachers.

Sixteen years later, R. Lee Flowers still smiles when he thinks of sixth grade in Carlene Roberts's classroom.

"She's a very bright and inspirational teacher, did a lot of quaky things that made a lot of good memories," said Flowers.

As they did in 70s, 80s, 90s at Woolmarket and North Woolmarket Elementary Schools, current students enjoy her innovative style.

Josh Elderkin is in Roberts' class.

"She's really fun. Just creative and stuff. Just a good teacher."

Family, friends, and co workers threw Roberts a surprise party. After 28 years of teaching, she decided to retire. So are 38 other employees that the Harrison County School district isn't sure it can afford to replace.

Harrison County Superintendent Henry Arledge said, "We're looking at what the Mississippi legislature finally ends up doing before we make a final decision on what we have to do with the finances but hopefully everything will be fine."

Some retired teachers remember not so good ole days and hope budget cuts won't bring them back.

Julia Boham and Blythe Whittington are friends of Roberts and retired teachers. Together they've spent more than 60 years in the classroom.

"When I started teaching, I had 40 students in the classroom. When I finished teaching four years ago, it was down to 27 in the classroom," said Boham. "When you get up to 40 something in a classroom, your time is limited per student."

Although her chapter as an educator is closing. Roberts is hopeful for the future.

Carlene Roberts said, "Sometimes we just have to do what we can do with what we have and go forth. I'm a person of faith, and of hope, and of optimism. Things will work out. Teachers always persevere."