When school started last month, the Department of Personnel Services had the county’s 56 schools ready with a full-time teaching staff in place and 567 new teachers. But a few of the other staff positions had not been filled and are not filled today.
The department has openings for a speech pathologist, three reading specialists and 78 full-time equivalent classified positions. The classified positions do not have Matthew Britt, assistant superintendent of personnel services, concerned, but the four other staff positions are a different story.
“We are always trying to replace people in the classified ranks,” Britt said about a staff that now has 333 positions filled. “It’s just revolving all year long. … People in the classified ranks don’t stay very long, like custodians will come in and quit” and employees will get promoted. “The classified … are harder-to-fill positions because of the specialized skills needed.”
As for the speech pathologist and reading specialists, “We have searched and searched, but we can’t find people. We’re still aggressively recruiting,” Britt said.
OTHER POSITIONS that are hard to fill are in special education, mathematics, science and bilingual education, Britt said. The School District hired 107 special educators for the 2002-03 school year and had the mathematics, science and bilingual teaching positions in place by the time school started.
“We did a great job in recruiting in early hires … and that put us ahead,” Britt said. “The principals interviewed quickly and made decisions quickly.”
The Department of Personnel Services hired the majority of teachers by June 1, leaving 200 positions to fill, while most of the hiring for classified staff was conducted at the end of July and in August.
“We look for teachers who demonstrate a love for children,” Britt said, adding that a teacher’s abilities, knowledge, experience, education, creativity and energy also are important. “The teacher makes a critical difference in a child’s learning.”
The School District received 4,006 applications for the open teaching positions, created by new jobs from the opening of five new schools, resignations from last year and about 50 retirements.
Growth in the district brought the staff up to 5,407 full-time positions and 3,422 part-time positions, with more than 900 substitute teachers. The full-time staff increased by 14.3 percent from last year and part-time staff by 30.2 percent.
The staff includes 25 new administrators and eight teachers from the Visiting International Faculty Program. Four of the teachers are from Australia; two from Canada; one from Argentina; and one from Colombia.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, the board approved a consolidated application for $2.01 million for federal Title programs 1-3 under the No Child Left Behind legislation. The legislation addresses student achievement, curriculum and instruction, training and recruitment of professional staff, professional development and technology.
“Those titles we’ve had all along. What this act has allowed for is a consolidated grant,” said Sharon Ackerman, assistant superintendent of instruction.
Ackerman said the legislation “has to do with trying to raise the standards across the board … making sure every school system is accountable for the teaching of students. … It really does help us in the many things we are doing anyway.”
By 2013-14, the legislation calls for a 100 percent passage rate on the standards measures, in Virginia the Standards of Learning. To do this, the legislation focuses on individual student achievement and looks at desegregated information on groups of students “to find ways to help students who aren’t achieving as well to become successful in school,” Ackerman said. “You can’t set up a program to help a child until you know where to start.”
The application for the funding, which is almost doubled from last year, will be submitted to the Virginia Department of Education.
THE BOARD received several reports, including:
* School enrollment for the 2002-03 school year is at 37,403 students, 28 students above the projections, according to the Sept. 16 count. The official count for state funding purposes will be taken on Sept. 30.
“We still anticipate enrollment growth through the end of the month,” said Sam Adamo, director of planning and legislative services.
* The tuition rate for out-of-county students for the 2002-03 school year is $6,933, based on last year’s annual school report filed with the Department of Education. The amount covers the county’s share of funding. Tuition for out-of-state students is $9,280, which includes county, state and federal funding.
The county’s share of student tuition decreased from 79.4 percent in 1991-92 to 74.5 percent in 2001-02.