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City school board hears plans for recruitment of minority employees
Retention also addressed

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

The Martinsville City School Board on Monday heard a report on the division’s work plan to recruit and retain more minority employees.

The objective is “to recruit and retain a highly qualified professional workforce that more closely reflects the racial and ethnic makeup of (the school division’s) student body,” according to the plan.

The school division recently provided demographic data from a “snapshot” report for Oct. 8, 2012, for personnel, and student demographic information for fall 2013-14. The data showed 58 percent of the students in the division were black, but 17.5 percent of the full-time classroom teachers were black.

There were also higher percentages of white assistant principals and several other categories of white professional employees than white students in the school division, but a higher percentage of black principals than black students.

There were lower percentages of Hispanic employees than Hispanic students in all full-time job categories listed.

In fall 2013-14, 58 percent of the students were black (1,310 people); 29.2 percent white (660 people); 8.5 percent Hispanic (191 people); 2.9 percent two or more races (65 people); 1.1 percent Asian (25 people); 0.354 percent American Indian (eight people).

Members of the minority recruitment task force, which developed the work plan, were selected by the school board in collaboration with Superintendent Pam Heath. The task force began meeting April 15.

“The plan incorporates current strategies that are already in place through our Human Resource department, and we have already begun implementing additional strategies listed in the Work Plan,” said Paulette Simington, task force spokesperson.

“We are currently working with our CTE (career and technical education) coordinator and VDOE (Virginia Department of Education) to implement the Teachers for Tomorrow program,” she said. This would allow students to take courses introducing them to the field of education, including the foundation of education and philosophy behind public education, she said.

“Students will have opportunities to satisfy beginning teacher assessment requirements, earn potential dual enrollment credits, observe in classrooms, gather scholarship information, and gain teaching experience before going to college through internships. We will work with the CTE coordinator and school counselors to identify students who are interested in teaching and encourage them to enroll in the classes once our proposal is approved by the DOE,” she said.

Also, a multicultural team of recruiters has been established to attend career fairs and other recruiting events, Simington said. She added the HR department and the task force have made personal contacts with colleges and universities for recruitment purposes.

“...The most (effective) way to recruit and retain teachers is to Grow Your Own. Not only will we do this through the Teachers for Tomorrow program, we have already established contacts with Longwood University through NCI (New College Institute) to get in on the ground floor with students who enroll in the teacher prep program there,” Simington said. “MCPS will speak directly with potential graduates (and) provide opportunities for the college students to complete observation hours, internships and student teaching in our schools.”

She said a similar “conversation” has been started with Patrick Henry Community College and Averett University.

In addition, the school division’s human resources department has participated in one recruitment fair and is set to attend another one this week. Most recruitment fairs at colleges and universities take place in January. “Every effort will be made to send members ... to sell our division,” Simington said.

Also, she said, “Attention has been given to making the website easier to access and clearly labeling the HR page with a notice that minorities are encouraged to apply. ... We plan to list the benefits that we have to encourage applicants to compare the cost of living in Martinsville to the cost of living in other places.”

Consultation and funding to recruit and retain minority teachers are being sought, she said. Also, there will be an emphasis on securing more minority teachers by working with the Career Switchers program.

“To retain teachers, we will help them to connect to existing Young Professional organizations ... and encourage them to participate in the New Teachers Professional Development program...,” she said.

“... School divisions across the country are struggling with minority recruitment and retention,” Simington said. “Fewer people are going into the field of education because of the low salaries as compared to other professions and due to lack of respect for the teaching profession throughout society. The number of minorities entering the field is even lower.”

“... Some minorities included in this number struggle to complete teacher education programs and some struggle to pass the assessments that lead to licensure. When looking for minorities, the number of qualified applicants dwindles. School divisions across the country are competing for the precious few who are looking for jobs. Salaries, benefits, bonuses, and the quality of life within the community are determining factors in the recruitment and retention process,” she said.


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