NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – For many school professionals, teaching over the past few years has been challenging with the COVID pandemic. Schools try hard to keep their staff, but many have left for higher-paying jobs just to get by.

Throughout New Haven Public Schools, there are 150 teacher vacancies. Music teacher Jonathan Berryman said one of his colleagues left for another teaching job, just to get a thousand dollars more.

“When you are looking at your student debt, you’re looking at starting a family, looking at maintaining a house, you have to make critical decisions for your own being,” Berryman said.

The shortage is happening as teachers and staff are addressing the learning gap students are facing because of COVID.

“We’ve not only sought to remediate lost academic learning but also lost social skills,” Berryman said.

On the steps of city hall Monday, union representatives, teachers and paraprofessionals called on the Board of Alders to fully fund the school budget. The budget called for a $9 million increase. After review, the mayor asked for $5 million.

The Board of Alders approved that $5 million dollar increase Monday night. But without the $9 million increase, unions are afraid cuts will be made to staff and resources directly affecting students.

“When the pockets smaller, that means more cuts to other programs that could cut impact students’ experiences in the schools day to day. We believe the cuts that need to be made need to be made as far away from the classrooms as possible,” said Leslie Blatteau, New Haven Federation of Teachers Local 933 president.

After Monday’s vote, the union heads said there is still a long way to go to get teachers the pay they deserve.

“Too many schools lack special education teachers, library media specialists, bilingual educators, science teachers and English teachers. Our students deserve a certified teacher in each and every class,” Blatteau said.

The superintendent issued a statement saying: “As we look ahead, fully funding the education budget will be essential if we are to come closer to meeting the market for our tremendously talented and committed educators.”