Amid its budget uncertainty, the Philadelphia School District faces yet another challenge: an increase in teacher vacancies compared to previous years.
Last fall, the District had 75 full-time and part-time vacancies, up from 40 at that time in 2013, said Kendra-Lee Rosati, director of recruiting for the District. Rosati attributed this increase, in part, to 50 jobs that were added one month into the school year.
Educators including Acting Superintendent Leroy Nunery and Philadelphia Federation of Teachers President Jerry Jordan will speak on a panel following a screening of the documentary American Teacher at High School of the Future Thursday evening.
Updated 10-18 with response from District.
After a tumultuous summer in which she was laid off, rehired, and given her new course roster on the first day of classes, District English teacher Kyla Jones was finally settling into her new surroundings at Overbook High School.
Jones had established promising relationships with the parents of her 9th grade students and was learning valuable skills from a veteran teacher with which she was co-teaching 11th grade English.
The stability wouldn’t last long.
Despite a tense summer marked by a legal stalemate over layoffs and a long delay in placing teachers in their assignments, the District is reporting that it has managed to fill all its vacancies before students show up for the first day of school on Tuesday.
Two days before teachers are due to report for the first day of school, nearly 200 positions have yet to be filled and hundreds more teachers are just now learning where they will be working for the coming school year.
Filling vacancies has been particularly difficult for the Promise Academies, according to the District’s online vacancy list.
Christopher Matthews quit his job with the School District of Philadelphia last Wednesday.
But he didn’t want to.
Matthews loved his position teaching special education at Potter-Thomas Elementary School. He was proud of what the school accomplished last year as one of former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman’s signature Promise Academies.
"I think it's clear that the District has gone through a lot in the last several weeks and months," said Nunery. "We've got to restore confidence in public education."
[Updated with Matthews quote; the District issued a statement.]
An initial group of 325 teachers who were laid off in June will get letters this week inviting them to take placements in schools, a District spokesperson told the Notebook Monday.
Additional teachers may be invited to return to positions in the District "over the next couple of weeks," according to spokesperson Elizabeth Childs.
The total number recalled may grow this month to over 400, said Estelle Matthews, the District's chief talent development officer.
[Updated 8/13 with quotes from Fraser, Useem, Kempin]
Just 20 calendar days before teachers are to report to work, the School District has finally posted its teacher vacancy list and next week will start trying to match teachers with more than 1,000 vacant positions.
District spokesperson Jamilah Fraser explained, "After we finish the voluntary and forced transfers, we will have the opportunity to bring back nearly 200 teachers" from those who were laid off.
Awaiting selection of their new assignments are 930 teachers who were force-transferred, according to Arlene Kempin of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers.