This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
The School District of Philadelphia announced Wednesday that it has filled 99 percent of its teaching positions, a notable accomplishment given the District’s endemic vacancy woes.
The announcement comes after a sustained and public push to fill every teaching position by Friday. The District will fall short of that goal, but only barely. By the end of this week, just 45 vacancies will remain, according to District Superintendent William Hite. Before hiring began, 1,940 positions were open.
The district has about 8,100 total teaching slots — down about 300 from last year.
“We made a commitment to fully staff all schools by the start of the school year, and we plan to meet that goal,” Hite said.
In 2015, 118 positions were open when the school year began, and the shortage continued throughout the school year. When school let out just a week ago, the District had 132 unfilled teaching slots, said District spokesman Fernando Gallard.
Long-term teacher vacancies have plagued the district for years. On Wednesday, Hite cited a 2008 Philadelphia Inquirer article stating the district had 166 teacher vacancies as the 2008-09 school year began. Over the last year, the School District ran a rolling teacher deficit and drew heavy fire from public officials.
Leader’s vision and charge
District leaders, meanwhile, pledged to fix the problem. This spring they launched an aggressive recruitment campaign that included flashy videos and lots of hiring fairs. They also pushed principals hard to fill all vacancies by the end of the school year and opened the hiring period earlier than in past years.