SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Schools nationwide and right here in Central New York are rushing to fill positions ahead of the new school year.

The Syracuse City School District held a hiring event Thursday night, August 3, hoping to recruit teachers and teaching assistants for the new academic year.

“Last year we hired over 300 teachers. So yeah, we’ve got a couple of hundred that we’ll hire between now and the end of the summer,” said Scott Persampieri, chief human resources officer for Syracuse City School District.

The ongoing cycle of teacher shortages is putting districts like Syracuse in a tough spot.

“This teacher shortage has really been something we’ve been dealing with for at least the last five years, and you know it isn’t unusual for us to have to hire 250, 300 teachers,” said Persampieri.

Thursday’s hiring event drew in a number of potential candidates, like Latrell Lewis.

“There’s a lot of good opportunities around here. I just graduated from Oswego, so I want to get in the mix of teaching,” said Lewis.

Lewis is now looking for that next opportunity, and is hoping to become a history teacher.

“I fee like the youth is very important and we need to give back. There’s not that many teachers I’ve heard, lately,” said Lewis.

He’s right. Teachers are needed across the board, but some areas have an even bigger need.

“Our special education departments, our ENL departments, math, science those are probably the top areas where we have an even bigger shortage than normal,” said Nicole Capsello, president of the Syracuse Teachers Association.

Capsello says finding and hiring teachers who are state-certified has been challenging, making things even more difficult for the district. The cost of college, retirement and state certification requirements are just some of the reasons why enrollment is down.

“I think we’re going to be facing the same challenges we have for the past few years. Having people in positions, making sure that all of our classrooms are covered, not only with our teachers but also with our school-related professionals because it takes a team no matter what, no matter where you are, and them also having people who have the certification,” said Capsello.

Concerns are now growing, especially with the new school year about a month away. However, the district is confident they’ll fill the positions that are open.

“It’s going to take every ounce of energy that we have and every day of the summer to get there, but we will get there,” said Persampieri.

The district also plans on hiring throughout the school year.

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