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Shortage in New Haven leads to overtime offer to current teachers

The school system's leadership said they recognize the unique challenges facing their teachers.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — The New Haven Public Schools system is in desperate need of teachers, confirming this week they are dozens short. So, they have recently worked with the teacher's union on a temporary solution.

After totaling up recent hires, retirements and resignations, New Haven Public Schools said they are currently 70 to 80 teachers short.

"I know they just started but, you know, every day it's a substitute teacher, not the original teachers that they had, so it hurts," said April Gore, whose daughter attends Wilbur Cross High School.

"I have been a teacher since 2007 and we haven’t had vacancies like this before," said Leslie Blatteau, President of the New Haven Federation of Teachers.

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Blatteau, who worked on a national teacher shortage task force, said many teachers are leaving for higher-paying jobs in the suburbs.

"The job of teacher has become much more complicated, much more intense, much more stressful than ever before," Blatteau said in her office Wednesday morning.

"They need to get paid more money," said Stacy Viera, a Wilbur Cross High School parent. "Then maybe they'll have sufficient teachers and classes full with teachers."

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But the teachers union and the school system, for now, came to an agreement on a memorandum of understanding this week.

"By our contract, our departmentalized teachers teach five classes a day and so this MOU says OK our teachers who teach five a day can take on that sixth but as a result they will get paid 20% of their salary for taking on that sixth," Blatteau explained.

The school system's leadership said they recognize the unique challenges facing their teachers.

"Whether it be food insecurity, to assist in making sure they have the right social and emotional and mental health support," said Dr. Paul Whyte, an Assistant Superintendent of New Haven Public Schools.

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Blatteau said she and other union representatives will be lobbying legislators to approve more money for teachers' salaries during the 2023 session.

"To me, one of the things that would really help is support from the state and also loan relief for teachers for people who go to school to study to be teachers," said Erica Holahan, whose daughter is a senior at Hillhouse High School.

The school system is working on all sorts of recruitment and retention ideas, Whyte said, and also noted that math, science, special education and English language teachers are the ones the school system needs most.

Tony Terzi is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tterzi@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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