Good news from human resources at tonight’s meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Personnel and Labor (a committee that meets as needed, not necessarily every month). Unlike previous years, we started the school year with 99.9 percent of teacher positions filled — just three teaching positions remained open on the first day of school and none of them were in special education, which must be a first. Paraprofessional vacancies were a bit higher, particularly in special education, but still, the district deserves credit for hiring more qualified teachers earlier so that most students began the school year with a fully-credentialed or highly-qualified intern teacher (94% of all new hires).
We are also reaping the advantage of being the only district for miles around that was actually hiring for 2009-10 (thanks again to the Rainy Day Fund!). This year, there were 18 applicants for every position requiring a multiple subject credential (generally middle- and elementary-school teachers); 11 applicants for every math or science teaching position, and 9 applicants for every special education teaching position.
We also heard an update from The New Teacher Project, a nonprofit organization that seeks to attract highly-qualified teachers to high-need urban schools. TNTP has been working with us on the Model Staffing Initiative, a program that recruits teachers to teach directly in 25 schools that are the hardest to keep fully-staffed. The program also spends significant time working with principals, assistant principals and instructional reform facilitators (IRFs) to help them better select candidates who are the right fit for the instructional environment at their particular school. The program has been a huge success, and has been extended for a fourth and final year. After this year, HR Director Roger Buschman believes he will have the in-house capacity built up to be able to carry on the work without the help of an outside nonprofit.