Nationwide teacher shortage impacting kids and their classrooms

The plan would give teachers who pick up an extra class an additional 20% of their salary.
Published: Sep. 16, 2022 at 9:18 PM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WFSB) - The New Haven school district and union have agreed to a temporary fix to their teacher shortage.

The plan would give teachers who pick up an extra class an additional 20% of their salary. So far, about 30 teachers have taken the district up on the offer.

“It goes a big way to make sure we have a certified adult in front of our kids for their classes as opposed to a substitute teacher,” said Dr. Paul Whyte, Assistant Superintendent, New Haven Public Schools.

While out visiting one of New Haven’s more than 40 schools, Dr. Whyte said they have between 75 and 100 teacher openings.

“The biggest need is in our sciences, math, special education, English. Those are traditionally the shortage areas in the state and those are the same things here in New Haven,” said Dr. Whyte.

To help, the district and the teachers union recently came to an agreement that would see teachers get a 20% bump in pay if they agree to pick up an extra class.

High school teachers, who teach a certain subject, typically teach five classes a day. For every 5 teachers who say yes, that equals one filled vacancy.

“We’re seeing both sides, we’re seeing some people take advantage and some people saying thanks but no thanks,’ said Leslie Blatteau, President, New Haven Federation of Teachers.

Leslie Blatteau heads up the teachers union. She says some want the extra work and the extra money, but others are worried about burnout.

“We’re glad about this agreement, it recognizes taking on that sixth class is significant work and it compensates teachers for their time, but we do want to say it’s a short term solution. We have to come back to the table and work with the district on long term solutions around salary, around working conditions, around respect for teachers and make sure we’re developing long term solutions that will help us recruit teachers and help us retain teachers for the long term,” said Blatteau.

Something the district says it is trying to do is create teacher pathways to get kids interested in teachers.

“Trying to create teacher pathways to get kids interested in teachers. We’re reaching out everywhere and anywhere we can.  The state has made it easier for teacher to be certified, if they’re already certified in another state, so we’re trying to eliminate as many barriers as possible,” said Dr. Whyte.

In addition to certified teachers, the district is also looking at recent retirees who might be interested returning to the classroom on a part time basis.