By Mike DeNardo

By Mike DeNardo

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The School District says its early hiring strategy is paying off and that it’s on track to have NO teacher vacancies to start next school year.

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It’s been years since the School District was able to begin a school year with all of its teaching positions filled. Last school year began with nearly 200 vacancies.

But after launching an early hiring blitz in March, Superintendent William Hite says, “We’re thrilled to be at 99 percent of the vacancies filled before we enter into the month of July.”

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Principals for the first time were able to consider external candidates instead of waiting to place internal transfers first.

The district has hired 531 new teachers, including recent Temple grad Aashita Batra, who will teach seventh grade math and science at Baldi Middle School.

“They’re trying to show you the reality in saying, ‘We think you are educators that can get through that and really make a difference.’ And then can you? And you go there and really see the difference you can make.”

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The district expects to have only 45 unfilled teaching jobs by the end of this week.