Sep 8, 2022 - News

Boston schools start year with hundreds of employee vacancies

Illustration of a pattern of beer school buses.
Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

It's the first day of school in Boston, yet nearly 700 Boston Public Schools job openings are unfilled.

Why it matters: While the number of vacancies is small compared to the full workforce — and compared to the thousands of unfilled jobs in regions around the country — Mayor Michelle Wu noted the openings are in part the result of burnout.

  • "The pandemic and all of the stress and all of the needs our families have been facing end up coming out in the classroom," Wu told reporters last month.

Driving the news: Some 676 job openings are listed on the district's website, including roughly 200 teaching positions and 80 paraprofessional positions.

  • The number is down from the 245 teacher vacancies and 139 paraprofessional vacancies Wu reported last month, and a small fraction of the more than 10,000 positions across the district.

Details: The district lost employees, particularly paraprofessionals and substitute teachers, and people retired or left, Wu said last month.

Yes, but: BTU President Jessica Tang tells Axios that while the vacancies are partly due to newly created positions, they come after educators have faced increasing levels of burnout.

  • Tang said the union and district have made some strides to improve conditions in recent years, but educators have cited a lack of air conditioning and other issues as challenges, along with the COVID-19 pandemic and other problems affecting schools nationwide.

What they're saying: "This trend will only continue to get worse if we don't respect the profession and provide the supports that are needed," Tang told Axios.

What's next: BPS has partnered with faith-based organizations, the mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics and Boston University's Wheelock School of Education to recruit workers.

  • The district is still hiring and asks anyone interested in applying to visit teachboston.org.

The bottom line: BPS is on pace to hire more than 1,400 teachers for the 2022-23 school year, though when the district will reach that milestone is unclear.

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