HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Teacher shortages remain an issue across Connecticut. School districts are struggling to keep their teachers happy in the classroom and get replacements.
Teacher shortages are a real concern in Hartford, and it’s not just this city. Many other districts are trying to figure out how to retain and recruit more teachers.
“I think it’s very hard, the hardest it’s ever been,” said Carol Gale, President of the Hartford Federation of Teachers.
Carol Gale was a teacher for 30 years up until 2020 when the pandemic hit. She says it really exacerbated issues teachers have been facing for a while and says compensation is the biggest problem.
“Teachers want to feel like they are being given a competitive salary. When one district gives you more, well they hop from one district to another,” Gale said.
Bridgeport admits to being unable to prove competitive wages.
“The pipeline is flat, the demand has increased, and just in our geographic location, being in southern Fairfield County, we are grossly at a disadvantage to compete for salary scale-wise,” said Michael Testani, Bridgeport superintendent.
Teacher vacancies are even higher in Hartford. They currently have 204 open teacher positions.
“We have an immediate crisis in front of us,” said Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, Hartford Public Schools Superintendent.
Hartford’s superintendent is seeing first-hand schools stretched thin.
“We don’t want to lose people and we know that we have to aggressively target, recruit. If we don’t, we can’t continue to sustain,” Dr. Torres-Rodriguez said.
Special education and bilingual educators are their biggest needs. They also have had 28 retirements so far this year.
Dr. Torres-Rodriguez says they have increased wages and are offering incentives to new hires, but there’s more to it to keep teachers happy.
“We have incentives, current staff members monetary, but we are hearing from teachers they want additional opportunities, leadership opportunities,” Dr. Torres-Rodriguez said.
Hartford and Bridgeport are two more school districts in Connecticut that will be holding recruitment fairs in the coming weeks.