Bay Area schools preparing for first day of school while dealing with teacher shortage

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- As school districts get organized for the beginning of the school year, there are still a few things they must contend with. Filling all teacher positions is one of them.

But year after year this is no longer a reality for school districts in the Bay Area. The high cost of living and better-paying jobs often stand in the way of being able to recruit more teachers.

"We also have a strong pool of substitute teachers that can be supportive as we continue to hire to fill those final openings," explained Jacqueline Murphy, the Director of Human Resources for the San Jose Unified School District.

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That's what San Jose Unified plans to do. Classes start on Wednesday.

Currently San Francisco Unified has 94 percent of its classrooms staffed. They begin on August 19.

Oakland still has 24 spots open even though classes begin on Monday.

"We're full on principals but we are still looking for some teachers," said John Sasaki, spokesperson for the Oakland Unified School District.

Special education teachers are most in demand. Faced with a serious shortage, last year San Jose Unified created "Rise," a two-year credentialing program.

"We cover the tuition at San Jose State which has been a great partner, we cover the testing fees, we provide testing support, all of the books, the costs are covered and we also provide mentors," said Murphy.

Of course, filling those positions is important but so is offering students nutritious meals at school. Districts are concerned that some families in need aren't getting that message.

Today districts were reminding families to fill out a National School Lunch Program application even if they think they don't qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

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"The family may not necessarily qualify for free or reduced prices meals but here in San Francisco we passed a policy where we are feeding every child regardless of their ability to pay," said Jennifer LeBarre, executive director of Student Nutrition Services for SFUSD.

School districts say the rhetoric on the federal level around immigration is also keeping some families from signing up.

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