RCSD releases plan to combat teacher shortage

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. Teacher vacancies continue to be a major problem. Locally, the Rochester City School District is working to combat the teacher shortage.

At Tuesday’s school board meeting, a plan was laid out to get more teachers into the classroom. RCSD has 107 teacher positions open and 193 staff resignations. With the spike in these numbers, RCSD is pulling out all the stops to develop and retain staff.

“There is a national teachers shortage and the New York State Education Department predicts in the next 10 years we are going to need 188,000 teachers,” Christopher Miller, chief of human capital with RCSD, said. “That is astounding.”

The student population is outpacing that number with hundreds of classroom teachers dropping out of school. Miller said they have rolled out a series of initiatives to recruit an effective and diverse teaching staff.

“Our ROC Urban Teaching Fellows Program, our partnership with Nazareth College and the University of Rochester,” Miller said. “We are expanding it to include New York University in August.”

They have also hired three new recruiters. Miller says RCSD is taking the reins to develop programs and partnerships with colleges and universities to grow tomorrow’s teachers today.

“We guide and support and we incentivize,” Miller said. “One of the great things we are doing is we have a program in the East called the TLI program. It prepares high school students to become teachers.”

They are also dipping into their pool of para-professionals to help them become teachers. This is something the president of the Teachers Association believes is a great recruiting effort by RCSD. The biggest challenge he says is recruiting teachers to urban districts plagued by violence.

One of the things Urbanski says the district can do “is to make school premises safe. That’s a tough order because schools can not be safe unless the streets are safe.”

RCSD has also hired teachers who are not fully certified with the incentive to become certified.
The ROC Urban Teaching Fellows Program does come with a caveat: You must commit to teaching in the district for at least three years.