Retirees are last in running

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AIKEN --- Retirees who are losing teaching positions in Aiken County schools can apply for more than 30 vacant positions, but they'll be hired only as a last resort, according to district administrators.

The open positions range from special education to art and Spanish teachers.

The openings remain after contracts were finalized with returning teachers and some personnel were moved to achieve a reduction of 120 positions to meet budget shortfalls, according to district Human Resources Director Joyce Stanley.

"We handled any vacancies internally first and filled what we could, but what you see is where we don't have anyone in the district that can fill that position without creating another vacancy," Mrs. Stanley said. "What you see is mostly secondary and special education areas."

The good news is that teaching jobs are available. The district also has the strongest pool of applicants in many years, with new graduates and teachers laid off from other districts seeking work, she said.

"We're having to schedule bigger blocks of screening time because there are so many applicants," said Dr. Cecelia Davidson, associate superintendent for administration.

The down side is that rehired retirees who want to remain in the classroom will be the last considered for jobs. The school board approved a policy revision Tuesday that allows the district to rehire retirees only on a year-by-year basis and only if no one already in the district and no applicants have the required certification.

Some of those retirees have found employment in Richmond County schools as full- or part-time staff. Others hope substituting will meet their financial needs until they find a permanent teaching position.

Dr. Davidson said the retirees would complete a shortened application because they have already worked for the district, but they would be treated the same as any other applicant in the screening process.

The district finalized many contracts for returning teachers by April 15, Mrs. Stanley said, but it is still a long way from having staffing for next year.

"We try to hire as soon as we possibly can," Mrs. Stanley said. "Most of those will come in June after we attend a job expo in Columbia. Every school district in the state is in a similar position though."

Vacancies could pop up during the summer, Dr. Davidson said, if there are resignations or retirements.

"It's always hard to say what we'll have available because you never know when life's circumstances change," she said.

Reach Julia Sellers at (706) 823-3424 or julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com.

SCHOOL DISTRICT VACANCIES

Visit www.aiken.k12.sc.us and visit the human resources link to view job vacancies and applications.

WHERE ARE THEY GOING?

Retirees who were not asked to return next year are making plans to stay in education. Here's what some have planned for next year.

NORTH AUGUSTA HIGH RETIREES

- Joe Long, a guidance counselor, will become Lexington High School's guidance counselor and football linebacker coach.

- Betsy Luquire, the science department chairwoman, will teach chemistry at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet High School.

- Dorothy Flanagan, a chemistry teacher, will substitute while seeking a permanent teaching position.

- Terry Belger, an AP, IB and Tech math teacher, will teach math part time at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet High School.

- Doody Snyder, the social studies chairwoman, is seeking permanent employment.

- Karen Williams, the math department chairwoman is planning to pursue permanent employment.

NORTH AUGUSTA ELEMENTARY RETIREE

- Angela Burkhalter, the principal, will travel to China and volunteer at the North Augusta Arts and Heritage Center and church.

ARE YOU A SCHOOLS RETIREE?

If you are an Aiken County retiree leaving the district, contact Staff Writer Julia Sellers at julia.sellers@augustachronicle.com.


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