LAND O'LAKES — Teaching jobs have been slim pickings for educators, with many Florida school districts freezing positions and others laying folks off. Growing districts such as Pasco, meanwhile, have had lots of choices. Pasco's lead recruiter, Terry Aunchman, talked with the Times about how the economy is affecting the teaching pool.
You went to the (state) job fair and you had one here as well. … I'm wondering how successful it was for you.
Ours was very successful. We brought through about 375 people. Most of those people got interviews either with school-based or district-based administrators. So we were able to get more information that we were able to add to their application about their interview. In many cases they weren't necessarily interviewed by someone that had a position, because many of the folks that were there have filled their positions but they come and assist the district and assist the folks that are coming to learn more about a teaching career in Pasco County.
I guess the issue is there are lots of people … and there aren't lots of jobs. Are you finding that to be the situation, where people just come and say, 'Please give me anything'?
It's a very competitive market this year. I've talked to principals who tell me when they run a job ad, for example elementary schools for an elementary ed position, they're getting as many as 200 applicants per position.
So what do they do? That's great for the schools but bad for the teachers, I guess.
It's good for them. They go through a screening process to narrow that number down as to who they're going to bring in. Of course, we look for those that are highly qualified under the No Child Left Behind Act and we also look for those that have gone through a teacher education preparation program and graduated from a school of education.
So people who are looking for alternative certification jobs are out of luck?
In some fields, in some areas. Elementary education has always been difficult for people with alternative certification to crack into … because the universities still seem to be providing a good supply of elementary teachers. But in secondary levels there still seems to be pathways for alternative certified people. There still seems to be some avenues for them to take to get into the classroom.
This is super different from just a couple of years ago, isn't it?
It is. Yeah. We've had years, and when I've talked to other districts it seems that … we're hiring half as many people this year as we have in years past.
When this happens do you stop going out and actively recruiting? Like, I know you had plans to travel to New York and Ohio and so forth.
I'm sure we're going to scale that back. This year we did our recruitment as we normally do, but it was prior to finding out what the financial forecast was for our school district.
Did you bring anybody down from those trips? Did you get people?
Yeah. We certainly have some folks that are moving from other states to Florida.
Do you think if you had known how many people would be losing their jobs from, like, Manatee and Lee counties and so forth that you would have gone to New York to bring people down rather than just have people move up a couple hundred miles?
Well, I think, again, we still are looking for highly qualified and teacher trained. And while there have been some more opportunities for finding those folks in our state now because of cutbacks in counties surrounding us, I still don't believe that our public and private universities in Florida are giving us the supply that the whole state needs. That's the real main purpose when any district in Florida, including Pasco, chooses to go out of state. …
In fact, I spoke with someone at the Teach-In who spoke with someone from Michigan who was telling them there were as many as 1,500 applicants per position in Michigan. … Many resumes I have collected were from the state of Michigan. So you have those areas where the teacher education programs are still producing high numbers with very limited number of openings within that state.
So I guess Florida is still a destination state for many of those.
Yeah. For sure. I mean, there were many people from Michigan and many other states there (at the Great Florida Teach-In).
It doesn't sound like the school year is going to start with that many vacant positions.
I would say not.
Jeffrey S. Solochek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4614. For more education news, visit the Gradebook at blogs.tampabay.com/schools.