TAMPA — Don't believe all you've heard about fear and loathing in the teaching profession.
It's a buyer's market as the Hillsborough County School District gears up for a round of hiring fairs.
More than 1,000 job candidates are expected this week at Jefferson High School and the nearby Doubletree Hotel during three days of interviews beginning Tuesday.
"We're being a little bit more selective in the criteria that we ask," said James Goode, the district's supervisor of teacher recruitment. "We're putting more highly qualified people in front of our principals."
The schedule opens with a session Tuesday afternoon at the Doubletree for 38 so-called Renaissance schools, which serve populations that are more than 90 percent low-income. More than 300 certified teachers are vying for those jobs, which come with a pay bonus.
Districtwide, several hundred teachers are resigning or retiring this year, Goode said.
But it's no more than usual, Goode said. And he doesn't think the departures reflect unrest over Empowering Effective Teachers, the program supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that eventually will tie pay to performance.
"I think honestly, someone who can retire, will retire, and it may be related to Gates," he said. "Mostly, it has to do with a spouse that is leaving, or they might be flat-out retiring."
Last year the district hired 1,535 new teachers as it completed the voter-mandated class-size reduction, he said. This year that number will be closer to 1,000, he predicted.
The process lasts all summer, he said, although several hundred might be hired on the spot at this week's events.
Starting in the Jefferson gymnasium, the applicants will be updated on where the vacancies are and when the principals can meet with them.
"The school has over 100 classrooms, and we occupy every inch on the event day," he said.
Interviews last 20 to 30 minutes.
Marlene Sokol can be reached at (813) 226-3356 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article has been revised to reflect the following clarification: The Hillsborough County teacher hiring fair that begins Tuesday is open only to those who registered before the deadline.