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Berkeley Co. ahead of curve on teacher hires

August 05, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Berkeley County Schools administrators this year are having an easier time hiring qualified teachers for most positions, but the district still is challenged by the lack of instructors for special needs children, Assistant Superintendent D. Richard "Rick" Deuell said Tuesday.

Deuell told Berkeley County Board of Education members meeting on Tuesday that retirements and resignations of faculty are down from previous years and this time last year, the school district had hired about 110 teachers.

By comparison, the district has hired 72 teachers this year, Deuell said. Deuell told board members that the school district still had 48 open positions, but felt sure they would be filled within a week or two.

Deuell was preparing a final report on personnel adjustments and did not have a final number of new positions created by student growth, which is expected to continue this year, albeit at a much lower rate than the years of the housing market boom.

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After the meeting, Deuell said the school district has benefited from a slowdown in hiring by school districts in neighboring states, and the number of college graduates has remained steady.

"There's a lot more competition for these jobs than we've seen in years past," Deuell said.

The last elementary school job attracted 110 applicants, Deuell said. And other elementary level jobs have attracted between 80 and 100 applications, he said.

As a result, Deuell said the school district is hoping to be able to increase its "base" of certified and highly qualified faculty.

The school district still has a need to hire educators to work with autistic children who have special needs because there significantly fewer job applicants who have the necessary specialized training, Deuell said.

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