Monday, August 21, 2000

New 3Rs: Recruiting, retention and retraining

By Jennifer Mrozowski
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Recruiting, retention and retraining are the three Rs for Tristate school districts battling a shortage of teachers.

        It's an especially tight market in math, science and special education. And districts, including Cincinnati, Madeira, and Boone County, were still advertising for teachers in this Sunday's classified sections even as schools are about to open.

        Recruiting goes on all year, Jan Leslie, Cincinnati Public Schools director of public affairs, said Sunday.

        For now, the district depends on long-term substitutes.

        “We certainly want to ensure we have a qualified, certified teacher in every classroom, but we're somewhat at the will of the market,” Ms. Leslie said.

        Covington Inde
pendent Schools are hoping staff support may increase retention. Covington has an eight-day teacher orientation, now in its third year.

        The troubled school district, audited last school year by the state after poor student scores on state academic tests, lost about 90 teachers last year to retirement, resignations or rejected contracts.

        Now teachers take bus tours of the district and the

        schools to give them a sense of belonging, and they receive several days of training and mentoring, district spokeswoman Crickette Todd said.

        This year, Linda Alford, Campbell County Schools' assistant superintendent of personnel, updated a directory every week listing teachers seeking jobs. It was distributed to principals.

        Cincinnati schools, in addition to recruitment, developed a teacher retraining program with the University of Cincinnati to encourage teachers to go into the areas of need.

        Last year, the focus was math. This year, it's special education. And the district soon may start a science retraining program, Deputy Superintendent Rosa Blackwell said.

        The district refocused $150,000 for teacher recruitment. That will include travel for recruiters, teacher incentives and development of a Web page where prospective teachers can apply for jobs online.

        North College Hill, Deer Park, Oak Hills and Princeton have joined a consortium and started their own Web site to recruit teachers.

        “It's expensive, but it's been very successful,” said Kay Faris, assistant superintendent of North College Hill. “It opens up a pool of applicants.”

        Other districts advertise in newspapers, on Web sites, go to job fairs and recruit on campuses.

        Lebanon schools may start grooming some of its students to teach, Superintendent James W. Sears said. One strategy could be to offer a scholarship with the promise to return to teach, he said.


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