With less than two weeks until the school year begins, Shelby County Schools needs to fill 123 teaching jobs but expects to have almost all of its classrooms staffed when the first bell rings.

Over half of those positions opened up during the last two weeks, and most are for elementary and special education.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson offered the staffing update during a back-to-school report to the school board Tuesday evening. He said many teachers who were considering retiring waited until the final weeks to turn in their resignation. However, the number of openings is less than at the same time last year.

“We’ll keep working hard to get all open positions filled,” he said.

Aug. 8 is the first day of school for Shelby County Schools, the state’s largest district.

Hopson reported that the school system will have 21 new principals this year, with one vacancy still to fill.

Educator turnover has long plagued Shelby County Schools, with 800 new teachers on average every new school year.

Keith Williams, executive director of the Memphis-Shelby County Education Association, encouraged the district to act quickly on staffing matters.

“We should not allow schools to go without a teacher standing in front of children,” Williams told the board. “Some will be severely overcrowded or staffed with a substitute teacher for many days. That’s not an appropriate education for child.”

Hopson reported that 48,000 students have registered for school, up 14,000 from early June but still far below the 104,000 students expected for the fall. More than 4,800 of those registered are new to the district, he said.

With temperatures hovering at record highs this summer, Hopson said crews are testing air conditioning systems this week and paying special attention to schools with historical AC problems.

To see Hopson’s back-to-school presentation, visit here.