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Teacher shortages showing in specialized fields

WBFO file photo

Every school says it wants a qualified teacher in every classroom because it's often required by law. It doesn't always happen because there are shortages in some fields, like special education and science.

It was a lesson delivered to students in Community School 53. When their science teacher went out sick for most of the school year, a sub was sent in to prepare them for Regents. Student leaders brought their complaints to the school board recently.

"If a school like City Honors of Olmsted did not have a science teacher for a certain amount of time, the Board of Education probably would have replaced that teacher in a week or maybe less," Riya Juma told the board.

"But because we are a small school on the East Side of Buffalo without very high standards and the fact that we are being ignored isn't fair at all. All Buffalo Public School students should have the same treatment."

According to Science Director Kelly Baudo, another science teacher wasn't available.

"There was a substitute who was a English Education major at the time that was doing her education at night. She was a current sub in the building. So, she was the sub chosen by the building principal," Baudo explained.

Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash says the district was working hard to end those staff shortages, shortages affecting many school districts in the region. Cash says he's ended what he called "a tale of two cities."


Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.