05/12/10 — Teacher vacancies are still up in the air

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Teacher vacancies are still up in the air

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 12, 2010 1:46 PM

Seven hundred applications came in during a recent teacher recruiting trip to Michigan, while another 179 candidates turned out for the district's career fair last month.

But it'll be mid-June before school officials can match up educators with vacancies, says Marvin McCoy, assistant superintendent for human resources services.

As another school year winds down, his calendar is packed with appointments for educators announcing retirements.

Coupled with that has been the loss of other teachers recently -- through death and short-term disability leave, while others relocated through the military or took another position elsewhere.

"They're still coming in as people make up their minds," he said. "Life happens and the need for teachers will always be there, and the actual teacher shortage will be realized once again when the budget shortfalls are turned. .... Once we get the governor's budget, then we will know which direction we will have to go."

Fortunately in the past, as cuts have been warranted, the district has been able to handle them through attrition.

In anticipation of the next school year, the district shores up recruiting efforts, which include the local job fair, trips to colleges, as well as to Michigan, a rich resource for the more marketable dual-certified teachers -- those with certification in more than one subject area.

The career fair candidates ran the gamut of the K-12 arena, said McCoy, with the vast majority representing K-6 grades.

The district also has an added resource, the Partnership East education advancement program at Wayne Community College. Many teaching assistants have taken advantage of that, McCoy said, affording the school system the opportunity to promote from within.

Although it is uncertain how the vacancies will sift out in the coming months, the most challenging areas remain in math, science and special education.

McCoy is keeping his finger on the pulse of the situation, so that when the time comes his staff will be ready to move forward with hires and transfers, if necessary.

"Once we have the positions and the allotments, the principals will align their allotments up with our current staff," he said. "If School A is over their allotment and it's a number of teachers that are authorized and they have to lose a teacher, elementary to elementary (transfer) is easy. ...

"Just like the RIF process (reduction in force) the teacher transfer process is the same -- last in, first out or first to be moved."

Several things determine the teacher allotments at schools, McCoy said. Summertime is a popular time for families to move, creating shifts in school enrollments. State-dictated changes in class size and kindergarten start dates could also be contributing factors.

This year's landscape has been marred by unexpected deaths and retirements, though. In the past two weeks, there have been three teacher deaths in area schools -- at the elementary school level, a high school math teacher and an exceptional children teacher.

Each position has been filled for the remaining weeks of the school year, but the district will have to find permanent replacements for the fall.

"Goldsboro High School will be a priority fill," McCoy noted. "We're excited about that as the opportunities will be afforded for them to make some plans to fill their vacancies."

GHS was highlighted, he pointed out, because in addition to the recent loss of a math teacher, a couple of teachers are currently out on short-term disability leave.

"We're trying to get those positions in math and science where we had long-term substitutes," he explained. "There will be some hires for math coach position, English coach position -- we have to choose an option as part of the High School Reform, for School of Improvement -- literacy coach, social studies coach, ready to fill July 1."

The positions, which are federally funded for three years, come from a separate pot of money, allowing the district to hire positions that are not state-funded.