ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The Rochester City School District is heading into a new year with just under one hundred teacher shortages.

District officials say it’s a significant improvement compared to over 300 vacancies earlier this summer. 

On Wednesday, News 8 caught up with Chris Miller, Chief of Human Capital with the district at a job fair, who said they’ve been trying to promote these openings aggressively, holding events where people can learn more and potentially be hired on the spot. 

Miller says these fairs have a great turnout — about 100 people or so each round. 

“They’re seeing people come out of retirement to help out, recent graduates, people from charter schools, and teachers from the suburbs,” said Miller.  

News 8 caught up with one of these teachers coming out of retirement, to help with these shortages. Miller said several dozen teachers have expressed interest this summer to come back and work again.

“I just retired,” said Melodie Valenciano, now a Dual Language teacher at John James Audobon School 33. 

Valenciano retired from her teaching career this May. She left her career at Franklin High School, and is now returning to where she started in the district: School 33.

“I didn’t think I’d be back, not as an official teacher, maybe as a substitute,” she said.

But it’s official, and it all started with a letter in the mail from RCSD.

“That stated that they were needing teachers, they were calling back retirees, so I was like, you know, I’ve been cooped up in the house for a long time from the COVID, just been absolutely awful,” she said. 

She thought it would be nice to get back at it; and signed onto a two-year contract.

Miller said this is one of their tactics to recruit staff for a new year.  Today’s fair focused on the need for substitutes.  

Miller said they have about 400 substitutes for the new year but are looking to pad that a little more. 

Last year, the district faced a major bus driver shortage. This year, that seems to have improved, and now areas like special education are in need. 

Miller says they’re working on ways to retain people long-term. 

“We’re adding middle school level interest clubs, to encourage middle schoolers to think on that, and continue down that career, that’s something we are working on internally,” he said. “But we are also working with Nazareth College, University of Rochester, and other local colleges to create partnerships that hook college students into coming to RCSD after they graduate, supporting and helping them pay for education.”

Miller said many people have left the industry over the past few years for a variety of reasons. 

Valenciano says some of these reasons have to do with fear of COVID, desire for better pay, and challenges working in a district where many students deal with trauma and grief. 

The district is holding another job fair next Saturday, at the Rochester Public Market from 8 a.m. to 11:30 am.