BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City school leaders are scrambling to close the gap and fill scores of vacant teaching positions. The start of school is less than two weeks away.

Gigi Barnett takes a look at how Baltimore City stacks up to other school districts on the issue.

The first day of school for most districts in the area is August 25. City school leaders say they are working around the clock to fill those empty spots.

The clock is ticking on the first day of class, and Baltimore City school leaders are working against it, trying to fill nearly 200 vacant teaching positions.

Lisa Grillo heads up the school district’s human resources division. She says, in the last month, her office has made some headway on the issue.

“We started out with over 400 vacancies. There’s a lot of work to be done,” Grillo said.

Indeed, because Baltimore’s 190 empty spots lag far behind other school systems. As of this week, Baltimore County has 32 vacant teaching positions to fill, Harford County has 38, school leaders in Anne Arundel County have to fill 85 more slots and Howard County has just 18 new teacher hires to make.

City school leaders say it’s the math, science and special education teachers that they need who are the hardest to find.

“Always a concern. They’re critical needs areas throughout the nation. They are a concern for us as well. So moving forward, our recruitment efforts will focus on those particular areas,” said Grillo.

In the past, it was the principals who did much of the hiring. But this year, to get those vacant spots filled quickly, that process has become a joint venture between school headquarters and school leaders.

“We share viable candidates with principals. Principals can recruit on their own and then share information with central office. So it’s definitely a collaborative process,” said Grillo.

How did Baltimore City get into this jam? Last year, they had a surplus a teachers. They worked quickly to get them into full-time positions. But what they did not do was hire new teachers to replace them.

Of all the school districts, Carroll County has the least number of vacancies. School leaders there need to fill just two more teaching slots before the start of the year.

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