Economy a boon to recruiters

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The bad economy might end up being good for teacher recruitment, Columbia County school officials say.

The economic downturn is affecting school budgeting. The system could lose up to $10 million in state funds next school year. To offset the cuts, school officials intend to eliminate as many as 37 teaching positions in elementary and middle schools, saving as much as $3 million in salaries and benefits.

But that economic cloud has a silver lining. Because of financial uncertainty, fewer teachers plan to retire this year, said Anthony Wright, the schools' human resources director. Last school year, 85 educators and staff members retired. This year, the figure is less than 50.

With fewer teaching jobs available, Mr. Wright said, it is a good market for the school system.

"In years past, the (teaching) candidate was in the driver's seat of this process," Mr. Wright said. "This year, the economy has made it possible that we're in the driver's seat."

The system's human resources department typically receives between 1,800 and 2,000 applications each year. That number didn't change this year, Mr. Wright said.

What did change was the number of applicants selected for the next level -- teacher screenings. In recent years school officials held two teacher screening events in which applicants met with principals for a series of interviews. About 130 teachers were invited to each screening.

This year, just one screening event was held, with 132 teachers invited. Of those, between 50 and 75 will be offered jobs, Mr. Wright said. Last year, the school system hired about 170 teachers. In 2007, more than 200 were offered jobs.

"What we're finding now is that we're seeing more solid candidates," Mr. Wright said.

Richmond County school officials do not know how budget cuts might affect hiring.

"According to our accounting department, it is too early in our budgeting process to properly address this issue," schools spokesman Louis Svehla wrote in an e-mail.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

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SCGAL53
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SCGAL53 02/21/09 - 04:48 am
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The remaining teachers in

The remaining teachers in Columbia County are very worried because their position may be cut, yet Columbia County still has a need to recruit?

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 02/21/09 - 05:43 am
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This would be a great time to

This would be a great time to institute the school voucher system. The schools that produce achievers would need teachers and could cherry pick them, while the schools that need improvement could look at the successful systems to see where they could improve. In a couple of years, the level of education in government schools could rise to a level it should be now.

grammar police
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grammar police 02/21/09 - 08:50 am
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I'm a Columbia County

I'm a Columbia County teacher. We have been told that NO teacher will lose his/her job. Teachers at my school are being reassigned to other schools. New teacher hires might have special certifications such as Spanish or Special Ed.

disssman
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disssman 02/21/09 - 10:33 am
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With an overabundance of

With an overabundance of teachers isn't it time to weed out the non-producers. Further, shouldn't we be taking a look at lowering teacher pay after all they routinely only work 9 months out of the year. I still don't see the need for special ed teachers. Just a few weeks ago we were told that special ed students were being integrated into nornal class rooms? If that is trully the case why do we need to pay for something that isn't needed?

UncleBill
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UncleBill 02/21/09 - 11:01 am
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Not being a teacher myself, I

Not being a teacher myself, I will say that I think teachers pay is based on months actually worked. Most school systems have an option so that it can be paid out either over the time actually worked, or prorated so they get checks over the summer also. They don't actually get any more money. Many teachers prefer to get the checks prorated out over the summer so that they don't have to worry about their budgets at home. If a teacher sees that I am wrong on this, please post correction.

grammar police
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grammar police 02/21/09 - 03:44 pm
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Dissman - Achieve three

Dissman - Achieve three graduate degrees. Do something worthwhile with your life like teach children to read and write. Doesn't get much better than this. It's worth the big bucks.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 02/21/09 - 08:34 pm
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Dissman, you really do NOT

Dissman, you really do NOT have a clue, do you?? You obviously don't know a thing about special needs children. Just exactly what part of "special needs" do you not understand?? These children are not the same as the kids in the "normal" class...there is something about this child that requires extra attention, attention that the "normal" kid's teacher doesn't necessarily have an abundance of time to devote to them, because this teacher is using most of that time to teach the "normal" kids. Okay, do you get that? It's just like right now....I am having to devote some extra time to enlighten you, somebody that doesn't understand a simple concept. If someone was not available to help you understand this, then you would continue to struggle through life without the help you need. As it stands right now, it is a FACT that when a special needs qualified teacher is out sick, a replacement is NOT being placed to help the special needs child! You parents of SN children in Col Cnty need to get on the phone and raise hell with the principal AND the school board! The only reason they're doing this is to save money. They apparently don't give a damn about your special needs child!

thats me
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thats me 02/21/09 - 09:14 pm
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I've been told by some of my

I've been told by some of my friends who are teachers that they are going to start integrating special needs children into regular classrooms as well as the advanced placement children to eventually get rid of both the special education program and the advanced placement program- this is all part of the No Child Left Behind thing- but personally I think its terrible. This can't be true- but if it is, there is no hope for the education system in this country. Special needs children need to be in a special environment and the advanced children need to be in a more fast paced environment than regular children. You can't put special needs children in a regular environment all day everyday and expect them to be able to adjust- sure they need to interact with other children, but they just can't learn the same way. The same for advanced placement- you put then in a regular environment and they'll get lazy and bored and won't be able to live up to their potential.

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