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CLEVELAND (WJW) – Classes are already in session for some Cleveland Metropolitan School District children.

In June, the district needed more than 260 teachers of all specialties and all grade levels and with school slated to start in about two weeks, they still need roughly 150 more.

All students return on August 22nd.

CMSD Chief Talent officer Lori Ward says they have been hiring teachers just about every day this summer.

“We are evaluating individuals who are applying late and people in our candidate pool who we’ve been unable to reach our principals and selection committees are working hard they’ve become recruiters themselves finding individuals but literally every day it’s a huge priority,” she said.

CMSD is not alone.

From large urban districts like Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown, to smaller rural districts, the search for qualified teachers has been rough this year.

Ward says retirements have been flat but the job pool for qualified teachers has shrunk.

“I really don’t think we see as many college graduates going into education. I think the pandemic made people really look at what they wanted to do and how they wanted to work.” Ward said.

Districts are also seeing increased competition for non-teaching jobs.

Parma schools will start classes in two weeks with only a handful of teaching vacancies, but they do staff that helps make the school run smoothly.

Bus drivers, special education assistants, cafeteria workers…Parma’s superintendent says schools have worked hard to keep pay and hours competitive.

“It’s not unique to Parma but it is a concerning trend and what we’ve tried to do somehow keep pace with private industry which has continued to escalate salaries to 14, 15, and 18 dollars an hour and that’s not where our positions were,” Parma Schools Superintendent Charles Smialek said.

Overall keeping staff happy and wanting to join school districts has also been affected by what the Ohio Education Association (OEA) says is an increasing lack of appreciation for the profession of teaching.

The OEA says current teachers are feeling a lot of pressure from factors outside of school, and those same factors are discouraging many from even becoming teachers.

“A lot of the political attacks against the education profession – the book banning and questions of teachers professional autonomy to do the job they were trained to do, and then you have stress over safety in schools and teachers being asked to do even more and for a lot of people it’s putting them at the breaking point,” OEA President Scott DiMauro said.

DiMauro says despite outside pressures, classroom teachers stay committed to providing the best education for their students.

Anyone who is a qualified teaching or non-teaching professional and would like more information about job opportunities at area schools can follow these links. More here.