PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The Providence Public School District is looking to fill at least 50 vacancies ahead of the upcoming school year, 12 News has learned.

The district hosted a hiring event Tuesday afternoon at E-Cubed Academy to ensure classrooms are fully staffed with experienced educators.

The hiring event was specifically for hard-to-fill positions, including math, science and special education. The district is also seeking school nurses and psychologists.

“We are woefully understaffed,” Providence Teachers Union President Maribeth Calabro said. “We have had over 250 resignations since Sept. 1.”

Calabro said the district interviewed roughly 50 potential candidates on the spot Tuesday.

“This is a very important event because we don’t want to start the year with vacancies,” she continued. “Our goal is to have a certified teacher in every classroom on day one.”

Right now, the district has 150 vacancies, including 107 in the classroom. The district said it has filled 93% of its 1,491 teaching positions, adding that classrooms without a permanent hire by the start of the school year will be filled by qualified substitute teachers.

“We spend a lot of time investing in our substitute hiring process,” said Gina D’Addario, the district’s executive director of staffing and recruitment. “We fully expect to have every classroom with a teacher in front of it.”

The district is offering hiring incentives and bonus packages starting at $5,000 for hard-to-fill positions. Other incentives include $2,500 bonuses for experienced teachers and $25,000 in student loan forgiveness for educators of color.

Calabro said filling the district’s vacancies isn’t just about recruiting qualified candidates. It’s also about retaining them for years to come.

“It’s a double-edged sword,” she said.