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Washington County Public Schools working to fill vacant teacher positions

August 18, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- As of last week, there were only seven vacant teacher positions in Washington County Public Schools.

Officials credit computer-savvy applicants, a successful job fair and competitive salaries for the low number of vacancies.

School for students begins Wednesday.

Of those seven vacancies, there are offers out on two of them, said Executive Director of Human Resources Donna Newcomer.

"Really, we're in very good shape," she said.

About 145 new teachers were hired over the summer, down from the 200 that were hired one year ago. Newcomer said she expects the remaining vacancies to be filled before the first day of school.

The positions remaining to be filled are in foreign language, special education and science.

"It's those last tough ones to fill," Newcomer said.

If the jobs are not filled by Wednesday, she said it is possible that substitutes will be needed for those classes. However, at the high school level, schedules can be rearranged to accommodate any vacancies, Newcomer said.

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The number of teachers applying to work in Washington County quadrupled this year. Officials are crediting a new online application system, a job fair held for this first time this year and recent salary increases with drawing more qualified teachers to the area.

"The salary scale is much more competitive," Newcomer said. "We've hired a good percentage of experienced people this year. This isn't just young people looking for new jobs."

The starting salary for a Washington County Public Schools teacher during the 2007-08 school year was $41,962 for a first-year teacher with a bachelor's degree. The most recent contract for teachers, which went into effect July 1, included a 2 percent pay increase.

Just less than half of the county's new hires come with classroom teaching experience, Newcomer said.

About 60 of the new teachers have prior teaching experience, and more than 30 of those have at least five years of teaching experience, she said. The new teachers come to Washington County from seven states. More than 55 of them are from Maryland and 25 are from Pennsylvania.

More than 10 come from West Virginia.

Newcomer said 33 of the new hires attended the Washington County Public Schools job fair in February. About 300 people came to that event.

Newcomer said officials are planning to hold another recruitment event next year.

This also was the first year that teachers could complete an online application on the Washington County Public Schools Web site, www.wcboe.k12.md.us.

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