Schools still have teacher openings

Classes start Thursday, and Arlington lacks 16 hires, many in bilingual education.

As of yesterday, the Arlington school district needed to hire 16 more teachers for Thursday’s first day of classes, with openings for bilingual teachers once again leading the list of shortages.

Meanwhile, the Mansfield school district has all its positions filled for its first day of classes, tomorrow, including 50 teachers whose positions were created because of enrollment growth.

“We are fully staffed,” said Sherilyn Conn, Mansfield’s public information officer.

For Arlington, a few more contracts need to be signed.

Of 10 elementary school positions still open, five full-time positions and one part-time position are in bilingual education, in which teachers provide some instruction in Spanish while also teaching the students English.

“If we don’t have those positions filled by Thursday, we have substitutes with degrees who are ready to start,” said Anita Buttram, Arlington’s executive director of personnel.

Because bilingual education is required by law and because the teachers must be able to speak a foreign language, bilingual teachers are in great demand throughout the state. Buttram said she recalls that the number of bilingual teachers still needed at this time last year was slightly higher.

The district has interviews scheduled with candidates for the other four full-time and one part-time elementary school teaching positions available and expects to fill them by Thursday, Buttram said.

The two part-time positions are equal to one full-time position.

Interviews have also been scheduled for the six secondary-school positions still open. Those vacancies are in special education, math and Spanish, Buttram said.

At last week’s school board meeting, Superintendent Mac Bernd said 11 percent of the district’s new hires are African-American and 9 percent are Hispanic. Of the 527 teachers hired, 416 are Anglo, 56 are African-American, 46 are Hispanic, seven are Asian and two are American Indian, Buttram said.

The district’s student population last year was: 56.4 percent Anglo; 18.2 percent African-American; 18.2 percent Hispanic; 6.5 percent Asian-American; and 0.7 percent American Indian, according to state data.

Charlene Robertson, district spokeswoman, said an ethnic breakdown of the district’s teaching force isn’t usually available until about the third week of school.

The district’s recruiters focused their efforts on universities they had not visited in the past, said Juli Mayfield, director of secondary personnel.

Because Texas districts pay significantly more on average than those in Louisiana and Oklahoma, several students graduating in those states were eager to sign with Arlington, Mayfield said.

But the recruiting wasn’t always easy. The district’s recent visit to Florida A&M University was a good example.

“They had 10 times the number of recruiters than they had graduates coming through,” she said. “It was horrible. “

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