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Area school districts near end of search for teachers

August 18, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM and MATTHEW UMSTEAD

With schools across the Tri-State area poised to begin the new academic year, schools systems last week were winding down their search for teachers.

Washington County Public Schools had filled all positions, although officials said they could face last-minute resignations.

In West Virginia, Berkeley County Schools had 20 vacancies last week, and Jefferson County Schools officials had 26.

School districts in Pennsylvania's Franklin and Fulton counties reported having most, and in some cases all, positions filled.

Washington County

For the most part, all vacant teaching positions in public schools in Washington County have been filled, said Donna Newcomer, assistant director of human resources.

"We're still getting last-minute resignations," she said. "People make decisions right at the end."

Newcomer said she expects that about five resignations will be announced before school begins Wednesday, but said all anticipated vacant positions have been filled.

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Earlier this month, Newcomer said that 170 new Washington County Public Schools teachers were hired to start the upcoming school year. At the time, she said that about eight to 10 more teachers were needed before the start of the 2007-08 school year.

Those teachers were needed for middle and high school English courses and some part-time foreign language positions.

Berkeley County, W.Va.

With the new school year slated to begin Wednesday for teachers in Berkeley County, Assistant Superintendent Rick Deuell said the school district still was working to hire more certified staff.

"We're going to have everything filled when we open next week," Deuell said Wednesday.

Although teachers report earlier, the first day of school for Berkeley County students is Aug. 27.

As of Tuesday, the school district had 20 vacancies, and had assigned another 43 "permanent" substitute teachers to other full-time positions.

"Of those permanent substitutes, at least half are retirees," Deuell said.

Deuell said the school district's recruitment efforts were especially successful in areas of Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, but competition with Maryland and Virginia remains strong.

"We can't just recruit (only) in West Virginia," Deuell said.

Jefferson County, W.Va.

In Jefferson County, vacancies for special education, science and math were among the 26 openings as of Tuesday, said Dale Shaffer, coordinator of human resources for Jefferson County Schools.

"A lot of these (vacancies) are not the same ones that we had" last month," Shaffer said Wednesday. "We're still holding out that we'll fill these with certified candidates."

Otherwise, the school districts plans to hire long-term substitutes.

Morgan County, W.Va.

Eleven teaching positions need to be filled in Morgan County before the start of the new school year.

The difference this year is the positions are in elementary schools rather than secondary schools as was the case last year, said David Banks, superintendent of Morgan County Schools.

"We are aggressively recruiting," Banks said.

Any vacancy left will be filled by long-term substitute teachers as has been done in the past, Banks said.

Franklin County, Pa.

Representatives of school districts in southern Franklin County, Pa., report they are in good shape for the start of the school year.

The Greencastle-Antrim School District, which begins classes Aug. 27, was looking for a fifth-grade teacher in the elementary school, the personnel department said.

The Tuscarora School District has filled all of its vacancies. The Waynesboro Area School District's vacancies are filled, although some candidates still must be accepted by the school board. Both schools begin classes Aug. 27.

"We have everything filled. ... Some of these people need to be board-appointed, though," said Rita Sterner-Hine, director of professional personnel services.

The hardest positions to fill were for language teachers and family and consumer sciences teachers, Sterner-Hine said. Elementary school typically is another story, she said.

"Normally, we have a relatively large pool of applicants," Sterner-Hine said.

This year, the Waynesboro district used a screener to determine which applicants should be considered for interviews. The interviewees were ranked using points in areas such as communication and leadership, with a perfect score being 75 points, Sterner-Hine said.

A handful of vacant teaching positions remained last week in the Chambersburg Area School District, said William Hodge, director of human resources. Those included a ninth-grade social studies position, and elementary kindergarten, English as a second language and special education teaching positions.

The number of vacancies is a moving target, Hodge said. On Wednesday, another social studies teacher said she was considering retiring, but would check with the state retirement system before making a decision.

With interviews scheduled for the other social studies position, "we have a nice applicant pool," he said.

The district has about 550 teaching positions, so Hodge said it is in a good position heading into the start of school on Aug. 27.

Staff writers Don Aines, Jennifer Fitch and Trish Rudder contributed to this story.

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