Bay Area school districts suffer from teacher shortage

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A new school year is about to begin and yet many Bay Area districts are struggling to find enough teachers to fill the ranks. Math and science teachers are especially needed.

With just days before the beginning of the school year, districts in the Bay Area are scrambling to hire more teachers. After years of handing out pink slips they are now left with a significant teacher shortage.

San Francisco Unified School District is busy processing applications. San Jose is still looking to hire about a dozen teachers, Hayward needs 25 and Oakland Unified School Districts said their shortage is significant, more than any time in recent memory.

Ana Margarita Sanchez is excited about her first year as a teacher with the SFUSD. In a risky move to secure teachers, the district's began hiring in January, something it had never done.

"The whole idea of being able to see the school and meet the school the you are going to work with six months in advance was completely new to me," Sanchez said.

"This year, we offered 140 early contracts, that's before we even knew which subject area we needed teachers in, where we had openings. We just knew we would need teachers," said Gentle Blythe of the San Francisco Unified School District.

As of Tuesday, SFUSD has 21 teaching positions it needs to fill. School starts on Monday.

"If absolutely necessary, we will be sure that there are qualified substitute teachers or emergency credentialed teachers in those few spaces that we can't fill," Blythe said.

This teacher shortage in most California districts is a result of years of layoffs during the recession years.

According to the California Labor Department, 82,000 school jobs in California were lost from 2008 through 2012.

Carolyn Nelson is the dean of the education program at California State University East Bay. "And then you also couple that with the retirement age of many of the teachers in school, you kind of have this perfect storm coming together to create this urgent need," Nelson said.

The number of teaching credentials awarded this year at CSU East Bay went up by 25 percent. It's still not enough. It will take years to meet the needs of the districts, especially in the areas of math, science and bilingual education.
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