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Springfield launches teacher recruitment site

District expects to fill about 75 jobs by next school year.

Springfield schools has launched a teacher recruiting website that officials hope will bring the best teachers and other staff to the district as they prepare to fill as many as 75 open positions for the next school year.

“Our students deserve and need the very best, and that’s what we’re after, the very best employees, regardless of what position it may be,” said David Estrop, superintendent of the Springfield City School District.

Recruiting good teachers is important for the success of the students in urban districts like Springfield, said Estrop.

“We have a substantial poverty rate in Springfield,” he said. “Our children, in many cases, start behind, but we can’t leave them behind, and so we need the very best people we can find to help our children move forward. That’s critical to the success of not only our students but also to our community.”

Springfield City Schools employs more than 850 teachers, administrators and support staff with 50 to 75 new employees attending orientation each August.

“Our mantra is that we want the best of the best,” said Kathy Richison, president of the Springfield Education Association, the union representing teachers. “We want a large pool to be able to look at with regard to our teachers and to make sure that when we have the interviews and make the selection that we do get the best of the best.”

The initiative, called “Start Here,” aims to promote not only Springfield schools but also the city.

“The competition is going to be much more strenuous, much more heated … than it’s been in the past,” said Estrop. “We wanted to make sure that applicants were giving Springfield a look, not only as a school system but as a community.”

Springfield has had 47 staff members resign this year or notify the district of the intention to resign or retire at the end of the school year and expects many more to follow due to changes in state law surrounding retirement benefits.

“With the changes in the retirement system, it’s become increasingly more difficult this year, and actually over the past couple of years, to find those excellent employees that we need,” said Estrop.

The district spent about $21,000 to enhance its recruitment efforts, including a booth for teacher recruitment fairs, printed materials and development of a website, The district attends at least 20 job fairs a year to talk to potential staff members.

The website promotes Springfield Again, a city-program that offers rehabilitated homes for sale with a full year of utilities, taxes and security pre-paid, student loan reduction and forgiveness programs for teachers in urban districts like Springfield and recreations and arts in the area.

“I think that’s a good, refreshing way for the district to try to attract new teachers to our district,” said Richison. “Springfield City Schools is trying everything that they can to not only help our school district and our students but also to help our community.”

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