School districts working to avoid teacher shortages with recruiting events

As the summer months wind down, Bay Area school districts are actively recruiting teachers to fill dozens of vacancies in their classrooms before the start of the school year.

The San Francisco Unified School District said it has 137 classroom vacancies, which is slightly more vacancies than it had last year according to a district spokeswoman. SFUSD is recruiting educators through hiring fairs and recruitment webinars and are offering coaching support to people who are interested in becoming a teacher.

The Oakland Unified School District said it is also hiring teachers to fill 76 vacancies out of roughly 2,300 positions.

San Jose Unified said it has approximately 50 classroom teacher vacancies, which is about 4% of its total classroom teaching team. The district is also looking for people in support positions like teacher’s aides. SJUSD spokeswoman Jennifer Maddox said the district offers competitive compensation, with top-tier benefits and "best in the nation" retirement benefits. Part of a statement reads:

"Unfortunately, the cost of living in our area is significantly limiting the number of eligible candidates. Public agencies, like school districts, need support and legislation to make housing and childcare affordable for public servants. Our students need bus drivers, teachers, and principals that can afford to reasonably live in Silicon Valley while being able to care for their own families."

The Mt. Diablo Unified School District held a teacher hiring event on Thursday to fill about 50 vacancies in its district. Chief of Human Resources John Rubio said the district is offering bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 depending on the position.

"We're offering contracts immediately," Rubio said. "As long as we find good candidates, we will absolutely hire them right away if we can."

Teacher shortages are affecting districts all over the state.

Tara Kini, Chief of Staff and Director of State Policy at the Learning Policy Institute in Palo Alto said staffing shortages are affecting districts across the state. The issues started before the pandemic and have only gotten worse.

"Districts have a much greater demand because they need to support learning recovery for their students," Kini said. "And we’re seeing really high levels of teacher attrition."

Kini said leaders in Sacramento are making investments by offering apprenticeships to people interested in becoming teachers. They’ve also approved a new grant to help pay for someone’s preparation in the education field.

"Right now we have something called the Golden State Teacher Grant which gives a $20,000 scholarship to any new teachers who commit to teaching for four years in a high needs school," she said.

 Rubio at Mt. Diablo Unified said the district is not only focused on recruiting teachers, but retaining the teachers they do have.

"We're seeing some teachers that say, ‘Hey I want to take a year off. I want to spend time with my family and take a leave, but remain an employee.’ We typically grant those because we want them to come back."