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With just two weeks left before the start of school, the number of teachers BPS has to hire has increased rather than decreased

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The number of teachers Boston Public Schools has to hire by Sept. 8 has grown rather than declined, leaving the district scrambling to fill positions.

School officials say they have 238 openings, eight more than they had less than two weeks ago.

“Our numbers continue to fluctuate for a variety of reasons, whether it be retirement, resignations, new positions added or otherwise,” the district said in a statement, but “we are confident that we will fill most of the positions before the start of the school year.”

If BPS can’t fill every teaching position before school begins on Sept. 8 for grades 1 to 12 and on Sept. 12 for kindergarten, the district said, “We will continue to recruit for positions and incorporate other hiring strategies such as adding per diem teachers and long term substitute teachers.”

Even before the current shortage, the number of teachers over the past school year fell to 4,256 from 4,595 in 2020-2021 — the first drop in at least five years, according to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The shortage of teachers is not unique to Boston. Many districts across the nation are scrambling to hire more teachers.

“School districts across the country are facing teacher and staffing shortages,” the district said. “We know that BPS is a great place to work and we have a lot of great momentum in our district.”

To recruit more teachers, district officials are taking a number of steps.

They are partnering with the City of Boston to do job fairs and working directly with school and central office leaders to help recruit for hard-to-staff areas.

They also are partnering with faith-based communities and are going to work to share and hand out recruiting materials during their services.

In addition, they are partnering with the higher education community with the help of Boston University Wheelock School of Education and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics.

“The goal is to get recent graduates and current students who want to be teachers or substitute teachers throughout the year,” the district said.

“I think that’s a successful long term strategy” said Harneen Chernow of Quality Education for Every Student.”

Officials have said they’re committed to making diversity one priority in the hiring process in a district in which 43% of students are Latinx and 32% are Black, according to BPS data.

A 2018 Johns Hopkins University study found that Black students who had just one Black teacher by third grade were 13% more likely to enroll in college, while those who had two Black teachers were 32% more likely.

Earlier this year, a bill backing educator diversity was favorably reported out by the state Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education but did not go beyond that, although it’s expected to be reintroduced during the Legislature’s next session.

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