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Wichita scrambling to recruit high-demand teachers

Published on -9/3/2012, 1:47 PM

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) -- The Wichita school district has hired a recruiter to scour job fairs and college campuses across the nation to find teachers for hard-to-fill vacancies.

The district also has launched a Facebook page, and school officials are visiting local high schools and community colleges to encourage more students to consider teaching as a career.

Much of the district's efforts are targeted at recruiting special-education teachers. But it also needs other high-demand teaching areas, including math, science, English as a second language and consumer sciences.

The Wichita Eagle reported (http://bit.ly/PID6dW ) that the school board last week approved up to $50,000 to hire retired administrator Don Dome as its district recruiter to find special education teachers. The district, which employs more than 9,000 full and part-time employees, started this school year with 25 special-education vacancies.

"It's a huge shortage area for us. We have difficulties getting qualified special-ed candidates," said Shelly Martin, director of recruitment and staffing for the district.

Its new Facebook page features job openings, upcoming job fairs, campus visits and other recruiting efforts. Postings include chief operations officer, teachers, paraprofessionals, physical therapists, psychologists, nurses, electricians, custodians and more.

Since most Kansas universities don't offer undergraduate programs in special education, many Kansas teachers first get bachelor's degrees in other areas then must go back for a special-education endorsement. Colleges elsewhere in the country offer undergraduate degrees in special education, Martin said.

"Those teachers are a hot commodity. Everybody's after them," she said. "If we can get (a recruiter) out there and tell them what Wichita has to offer, we feel like that will be pretty effective."

About six years ago, district officials traveled to the Philippines to recruit teachers for hard-to-fill positions in math, science and special education. They hired more than 40 Filipino teachers, but fewer than half were still teaching in Wichita three years later.

The district in the past has hired teachers from Korea, Canada and elsewhere through "virtual recruiting," Martin said. But these days they're focused more on domestic efforts, including alternative certification.

School officials are also visiting local high schools and community colleges to encouraging more young people to consider careers in teaching.

"Our workforce is aging and people are retiring, so we're looking ahead," Martin said.


Information from: The Wichita Eagle, http://www.kansas.com

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