City lifts some restrictions on schools still in need of teachers

With days to go before the start of the new school year, the city has lifted years-old hiring restrictions on six teaching areas: physical education, fine arts, music, theater, and high school social studies and Spanish.

But teachers who are new to the city’s public schools and licensed to teach those subjects won’t be able to find jobs anywhere; some are restricted to Queens, Manhattan and the Bronx, or the Bronx only—where schools typically have the toughest time recruiting teachers.

The city lifted the restrictions on August 24 to deepen the candidate pools for schools that still have open jobs. A Department of Education official said the department adjusts its hiring rules throughout the year to reflect city schools’ hiring needs.

Since 2009, the teacher hiring climate has been dampened by restrictions introduced by then-Chancellor Joel Klein to save the city money. But over time the department has exempted some subjects and geographic areas.

The most recent reprise spells new hope for teachers still looking for jobs within the school system for this fall, and for schools unhappy with the candidates who have applied for open positions so far.

At one recent hiring fair, dozens of school leaders were interviewing teachers for a slew of still-open positions, though some lamented the hiring restrictions in place. Flushing’s John Bowne High School, for example advertised vacancies in English, special education, and Spanish, which is one of the areas newly open to new teachers. The Bronx’s Pelham Academy, East Bronx Academy, and Bronx Theater Arts School each posted several vacancies and drew long lines of teachers to their booths.

The hiring restrictions are designed to make it easier for teachers who have lost their permanent positions to school budget cuts to find new ones. Department officials said the ATR pool held 830 teachers in June, and has grown slightly since then. But it is still far smaller than it was at this time last year, when there were 1,900 ATRs.