Schools across the country are dealing with a teacher shortage, and Connecticut is no exception. Districts are doing what they can to bring in new staff in time for the start of the school year.
Those in education say this is a problem that’s been brewing since well before 2020. They say the pandemic exacerbated the problem and that it’s an issue that will take short and long-term solutions.
“We need to have the resources that teachers need, and we need to pay salaries that are competitive with comparable jobs,” said Connecticut Education Association Executive Director Donald Williams.
With just weeks until schools across the country begin to open their doors for a new year, the scramble to find staff continues.
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Williams said some districts have seen as much as 20% of their teachers leave and that it’s critical to elevate the teaching profession.
“This year in the legislature, we worked hard just to have 30 minutes of uninterrupted lunch time for teachers,” Williams said. “So it’s a constant battle for professional status in a time when more and more responsibilities and stresses are put on teachers.”
“We have managed to get almost fully staffed, and we do expect to be fully staffed by the end of August,” said Tolland Public Schools Superintendent Walter Willett.
At Tolland Public Schools, Willett said they’ve focused on adding resources to support staff and students.
“We’re working hard to focus on staff wellness, both mental and physical, and to do some active recruiting as well as staff support to make sure people feel professionally supported,” Willett said.
The Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents said teacher shortages are a significant issue in the state, and it’s hit some school districts more than others. The positions that are the most challenging to fill include special education, math, science, bilingual and school psychologists.
The state has eased some regulations to make it easier to get teachers into the classroom, like allowing educators from several states with active, valid certificates to apply and obtain an equivalent Connecticut certification faster.
“We have to invest. Invest in our public schools. Invest in our educators and teachers, so that we make that investment in our students,” Williams said.
While the pandemic has many people evaluating their careers, Tolland’s superintendent said the passion for teaching has also brought people to education.
Staffing shortages aren’t the only hurdle as we approach the new school year. As we reported previously, companies are scrambling to hire and train school bus drivers to make sure all the routes are covered.