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The biggest challenge facing local school districts this summer was finding enough qualified applicants to fill vacant teaching positions.

Cumberland Valley School District had to replace roughly one-tenth of its professional workforce at a time when classroom space is at a premium and growth is pushing total enrollment to almost 9,200 students.

About 10 of the recent hires were for new positions while about 60 were to back-fill positions left vacant by faculty who resigned or retired late in the 2016-17 year, district Superintendent Fred Withum said.

He said another 15 positions had to be transferred among school buildings to balance out teacher-student ratios.

Cumberland Valley has targets on class sizes that ideally limit the number of students per classroom to 22 in grades K-2, 28 in grade 3 and 30 in grades 4 and above, Withum said.

Pennsylvania and the nation are coping with a shortage of college students seeking degrees in education.

Cumberland Valley was fortunate in having a record number of applications submitted, Withum said. “We are doing a good job of drawing people to work in the district.”

Carlisle Area School District faced a similar challenge in filling its vacant teacher positions, the majority of which are at the elementary school level.

This summer a science position at the Carlisle High School and a world language position at Wilson Middle School were the most difficult to fill, acting Superintendent Christina Spielbauer said. She said Assistant Superintendent Colleen Friend completed the final interviews last Thursday morning.

Last week Carlisle completed its preparations for today’s opening by putting new teachers through a state-mandated induction program and by hosting a kick-off event for 2017-18 that included student performances, Spielbauer said. The kick-off event included presentations and speakers to get into the spirit of a new academic year.

“The biggest challenge for us is the number of teachers who have moved on,” said Al Moyer, who stepped down Friday as superintendent of the South Middleton School District. “We had several late personnel changes.

“We are happy for those people who are making those transitions, but at the same time it caused us to go hard at it,” Moyer said.

All three superintendents said their districts would be fully manned on opening day. Cumberland Valley and Carlisle start today while Aug. 28, will be the first day for students at South Middleton.

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News Reporter

History and education reporter for The Sentinel.