04/20/07 — School district starts looking to fill teacher vacancies

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School district starts looking to fill teacher vacancies

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 20, 2007 2:00 PM

Faced with baby boomers close to retirement, Wayne County Public Schools is working to replenish its teaching pool, hosting the annual job fair Saturday at Goldsboro High School.

Marvin McCoy, assistant superintendent for human resources, said he is trying to be realistic.

"We don't like to think about it, but there could be as many as 100-plus openings in the fall, he said. "Someone could wake up over the summer and decide not to come back."

As the current school year comes to a close, McCoy wouldn't guess how many teachers will be retiring. With the growing teacher shortage, many retirees consider returning to assist where needed.

But even that takes a strategy.

"In order to participate, they must retire and stay away from the school system for a period of six months and then are eligible to come back and work in the capacity of a classroom teacher in their area of licensure," McCoy explained.

For those retirees willing to come back and work in the school system, he said, "that has been a saving grace."

McCoy said he prefers to call Saturday's event a "career fair."

"We're faced with an increasing shortfall of certified teachers because the hole in the bottom of the bucket is almost as large as the hole in the top of the bucket," he said.

"We're faced with baby boomers and their retirement and that will open opportunities for career moves for those potential teachers. We're looking for people with passion and a desire to make a difference and impact the lives of our students that represent our tomorrow."

McCoy anticipates openings in every grade, from B-K (More at Four and other programs leading up to kindergarten) through 12th grade. The biggest need is in the area of exceptional children, he said.

"We're looking for those teachers with a desire to teach those students with special needs," he said.

Those without certification should still consider seeking a job in the school system, McCoy said. For those considering a career change, the lateral entry program is an option.

"Lateral entry is for those who graduate with degrees -- psychology, history, math -- but were not education majors," he said. "You, too, can become a teacher."

Many have degrees but are not certified in education. For them, there is the option of working while attaining licensure, McCoy said.

All new hires, whether they are classroom teachers or instructional assistants, need a minimum two-year degree or 48 transferable hours, he explained.

Prospective candidates are invited to check out Saturday's fair, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the Goldsboro High gymnasium. All 33 schools -- including the two newest, Wayne Early/Middle College High School at Wayne Community College and Wayne School of Engineering at Goldsboro High School -- will have booths set up. Representatives from each will be on hand to answer questions about licensure, salary, benefits and scheduling.

Interviews will be conducted by principals and in some cases, a temporary contract can be issued -- provisional upon a background check. The new hires not only shore up the teaching pool for the upcoming year, but have at times salvaged an emergency situation, McCoy said.

"We have had some cases where we have to have a long-term sub," he said. "When there's a death or a military spouse transferred, finding a teacher at this juncture, unless they're a December graduate from a university, we're in a pickle."

Recruiting is an ongoing process, and McCoy has already made the rounds to college job fairs. Response this year has been wonderful, he said, but it's still a challenge.

"You could have anywhere from 25 to 50 bites, but we're competing with other systems that are at those job fairs," he said. "Our job is to sell Wayne."

The school system has had to shore up its incentives package to keep pace with surrounding counties, McCoy said. Currently, it offers a $2,000 sign-on bonus for certified teachers and a 6.5 percent annual supplement. Local businesses also provide discounts and incentives to new and currently employed teachers.