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Wanted: School district employees

A classroom of students.
Eileen Buckley

This is the time of year when school districts are looking for new employees for next school year, allowing for retirements and departures from the staff of this school year and hoping the departures and arrivals match.

School districts are coming off three crazy years, recovering from the two COVID-interrupted academic years and trying to keep both students and staff calm. Face masks served as a sign of what everyone was going through. Problems turned up all different ways, from the shortage of drivers for the yellow buses to food problems in the cafeterias because of supply chain disruptions.

So districts will be looking for everyone, from superintendents to maintenance staff to substitute teachers.

Hamburg School Superintendent Michael Cornell is also president of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association. Cornell blames former Gov. Andrew Cuomo for many of the shortages of young people choosing teaching as a potential career.

"Teacher shortage is very much a function of the former governor. I mean Andrew Cuomo did a lot of to discourage young people from going into careers in education, through the rhetoric about failing public schools and this nonsense narrative he created about public schools, public school teachers," he said.

Cornell said area school systems are looking at really bright, mostly young people who are coming out of teacher training programs, particularly schools like SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Buffalo State.

"Their enrollment, I don't think it's ever been higher, and I believe that the other programs are experiencing a similar increase in enrollment in their programs," he said. "So we've had great student teachers across the region. Certainly in Hamburg, we have lot of sophomores and juniors who are doing junior participation observation hours in our classrooms."

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.