The cash-strapped Philadelphia School District is looking to hire hundreds of teachers to make sure there's a teacher in every classroom this fall.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the district wants principals to have their teaching staffs chosen by June 30 as part of a new early-hiring strategy that will bring in at least 800 new teachers into the district.
"Great teachers and staff are critical to our focus on building a more equitable system of schools across our city,” said Superintendent Dr. William Hite. “We are committed to hiring educators and support staff who believe deeply in the potential of all students.”
A $2-a-pack cigarette tax that went into effect a little more than one year ago has given the district a cash infusion. Mayor Jim Kenney's proposed soda tax could also help increase school funds.
District spokesman Fernando Gallard said officials want to prevent the problems that occurred last fall when nearly 200 teaching positions were left vacant in October. Many remain empty.
The district said it wants to have 5,000 applications so it can choose teachers from the best candidates. The district is seeking specifically teachers with experience teaching "upper elementary (grades 4-8), secondary math and science (grades 5-12), special education, art, music, foreign language, bilingual education and dual certifications in math, science, and special education."
Union leaders lauded the effort but cautioned that it would be difficult.
The district says it has received 1,000 applications since the 2016 recruitment drive began at the beginning of the year. Teaching jobs pay around $45,000 for new teachers.
The district is also looking for 60 new school nurses and 50 counselors with starting salaries ranging from $45,000 to $51,000, said the district.