Has changing some psychologist positions from 12- to 10-month impeded our ability to hire psychologists?
School psychology is a critical shortage area in Maryland. Nationally approved school psychology graduate training programs in Maryland do not produce enough graduates to fill the number of school psychologist vacancies in the state, and as a result, Maryland must import school psychologists. School psychologist candidates often have choices between several job offers among nearby school systems and across the country. Surrounding jurisdictions offer school psychologists open contracts as early as January for the following school year, impacting the potential pool for vacant psychologist positions. In December 2014, the Psychologists' Work Schedule Work Group recommended that the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Office of Human Resources and Development identify the psychologist position as eligible for open contracts because of the shortage of qualified school psychologists. Open contracts for psychologists will greatly improve MCPS' opportunities to hire qualified candidates.
An analysis of 2012-2013 data reported by the Maryland State Department of Education shows that starting salaries and contract lengths for school psychologists vary widely. While MCPS offers 10- and 12-month positions, some districts budget for 10- and 11-month positions; others budget for 11- and 12-month positions. Starting salaries of districts that offer 10- and 12-month school psychologist positions are mixed; some are higher and others are lower than the starting salary offered by MCPS.
The shift from 12-month psychologist positions to 10-month and 20 summer days positions has presented some challenges to filling vacant positions. However, eight of the 12 vacant school psychologist positions were filled by the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year. Two of the four remaining vacant positions were filled in October 2014. The third vacant position was filled in December 2014, while the fourth and final vacancy was filled in early January 2015.