DREXEL HILL, Pa. (CBS) -- As the school year is slowly approaching, Upper Darby is looking into many different options on how to handle the teacher shortage. District administrators are working with the teacher's union and parents to get creative.
"Obviously there's a national crisis and we're not able to elude or escape that reality," Superintendent Daniel McGarry said.
School districts are in dire need of teachers nationwide, especially here at home.
"We are going to hold on for as long as we can, keep our schools open for our kids and keep pushing forward," McGarry said, "but there needs to be bigger relief in sight. Better pay for teachers. Encouraging people to go into this profession. Talking about mental health support for students. Real mental health support for students."
Upper Darby School District serves about 12,000 students.
McGarry says they have close to 40 unfilled teaching positions district-wide. Most of the open spots are in the middle schools and high school.
McGarry says the district is looking to increase community college opportunities for students by paying for credits, books and transportation.
The district is also looking to pay teachers extra money to pick up additional classes.
"But even that leads to a burnout factor and it leads to if we have a high absenteeism for a certain reason especially as we go into the fall with COVID again," McGarry said, "if we have a lot of teachers that are out and they are covering additional classes and we can't get subs, we may not be able to open a day."
"Some of us are overwhelmed and can't assume the additional responsibility," Upper Darby Education Association President Dr. Linda Fox said, "and some of us like, 'Yeah, this is extra money and I could use,' so definitely mixed reaction. But ultimately, at the end of the day, the students will be taken care of."
The commonwealth's Department of Education said last year 6,000 new teachers entered the workforce. That is significantly down from 10 years ago when roughly 20,000 new teachers started.
McGarry says the vacancies are based on many factors.
"Because the compensation, the stress of the job, unfunded mandates, pressure related to school violence, parent involvement," McGarry said. "All of those aspects have led to young people saying I am not sure I want that to be my profession."
McGarry says the district, parents and teachers are working as a united front to stay on top of it.
"I just think we need to emphasize how important this profession is in this country and if we don't act quickly enough, I think it's going to only get worse," McGarry said.
"Know that your teachers in Upper Darby School District are working as hard as we can," Fox said.
There is a job fair on Thursday. If you are interested in being a teacher, it's at the high school from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
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