Board of Education OKs hiring 10 foreign teachers

June 09, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The Washington County Board of Education voted Tuesday night to fill some Washington County Public Schools positions next year with international teachers.

The school board approved a $345,000 agreement with the Visiting International Faculty Program to recruit and hire 10 teachers to fill shortages in the schools.

The arrangement will save the system money in insurance and other benefits, according to Chris South, director of budget and finance.


The teachers would stay for three years, deputy superintendent Patricia Abernethy said.

"We have a moral obligation to our students, to our parents, to ensure we are putting qualified teachers before them," Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

Board member Wayne Ridenour, who said he approved the plan with reservations, likened the program to outsourcing.

"The people that we're bringing in will be here for a maximum three years. This is almost like outsourcing for all intents and purposes," Ridenour said.

According to Abernethy, the schools anticipate 30 unfilled positions at the elementary level next year and 47 at the high school level.

"Mr. Ridenour, I can tell you that if we could find a way to find teachers from our United States and not have 30 long-term substitutes, we would do it," Abernethy said.

According to Abernethy, 30 of the county's positions this past year were filled by long-term substitutes.

Teachers tell the county they would rather work close to home or move to a state with a better pension system, Abernethy said.

"Our students deserve more than a substitute teacher, and these teachers are highly qualified," Abernethy said of the international program.

Washington County Teachers' Association President Claude Sasse said before Tuesday's meeting he did not know all the details of the arrangement. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

According to its Web site, since 1987, the Visiting Faculty Program has brought thousands of teachers from abroad to the United States for up to three years. The program pays for their recruitment, orientation and airfare to the United States.

The program seeks experienced teachers with good English language skills, Abernethy said.

South said the county would save money because it would not be expected to make Social Security contributions during the teachers' first 18 months in the country or pick up the cost of the teachers' benefits. He said the system also would not spend money it might normally allocate for sign-on bonuses of other recruits for hard-to-fill areas.

Abernethy told the board that of the 5,900 teachers hired in Maryland in 2003, fewer than half of them - 2,300 - were supplied from within the state.

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