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Baltimore City Schools Problem Filling Vacancies Down To The Wire

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The first day of school is in the books for thousands of students in Baltimore City, but some may not have their teacher yet.

WJZ was at the crosswalks and in the hallways as tens of thousands of Baltimore students headed back to class for the 2015-2016 school year. It comes among scores of teacher vacancies.

WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren with the problem filling vacancies in both teacher and administrator jobs that went down to the wire.

Some critical leadership positions in Baltimore City schools were only filled days before school opened, including nine principal positions filled within the past week.

"A number of principals have called me complaining about the short period of time," said Jimmy Gittings, President, Administrative Union, Baltimore City Schools.

Gittings is the union president for administrators. He tells WJZ the problem stems from top school managers making rash changes, leading to last minute appointments.

"This is the first time that this has happened. We have a new administration in," Gittings said. "You just can't move a principal at a whim because you feel as though that person is not a fit for that school."

The issue even came up before a concerned city council last week.

"Principals, I'm in great shape. There's a principal in every school," said Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Gregory Thornton.

For the city schools CEO, another challenge is finding teachers. He could not provide an exact number of vacancies, though, last week, it was at 90.

"We have some challenges around, really, three key areas--one is special education, two certainly is mathematics and then foreign language," said Thornton.

Teacher shortages in those areas are a problem throughout the region and nation, with fewer graduates deciding to go into education.

"We have less of a pool to choose from," said Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes. "It is crucial and critical that we do as much as we can to make sure education gets off to a good start and stays that way all throughout the year."

Although vacancies are a problem, they're not nearly as many in number as there have been in years past.

Baltimore City spends roughly $260 million a year on schools. The state spends $900 million.

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