Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
Tight job market for teachers
By Amy Kronenberger
Competition is stiff for local teaching jobs as new graduates face a sluggish economy and streamlined schools.
With school deficits on the rise and the new state budget threatening to cut funds, many area schools have been forced to cut teaching positions through attrition. This has left many new teachers battling for limited positions.
Judy Brewer, education lecturer at Wright State University-Lake Campus, said although she has seen a decrease in the number of education students during the last few years, it's still very difficult for graduates with a teaching degree to find jobs in the area.
"This is probably the worst job market I have ever seen around here," she said. "I know there are jobs out there, but it would probably involve moving."
Brewer talks to students about the difficulty in finding a job and offers to look over their resumes and cover letters.
"I do discuss with them how hard it might be (to find a job), particularly if they don't have a choice to go elsewhere," she said. "I also teach them tricks of the trade, if I can. I think that any insight or suggestions I can give them is part of my responsibility to my students."
Celina City Schools Superintendent Matt Miller, who is an adjunct education professor at the Lake Campus, also discusses with his students the difficulty of finding a job after graduation. He said many of his former students have had to go out of state to find a job.
"We've eliminated nine positions (at Celina schools) this year and plan to do another two, but we've had 22 teachers retire or resign so we're actually hiring for next school year," Miller said. "We currently have 400 applications on file, so there's a definite backlog of qualified applicants versus open positions."
Miller said the number of submitted applications has risen since five years ago, not only because of budget cuts, but also because of the changes to the state teachers' retirement system. Fearing a teacher shortage, the state in the late 1990s changed the retirement system from 30 to 35 years of service because they wanted teachers to work longer. The shortage never occurred, and the change slowed the turnover rate, further decreasing open teaching positions, he said.
Superintendents Ann Harvey of New Bremen Local Schools and Rich Seas of Coldwater Exempted Village Schools said they are receiving about the same number of applications they've always received.
"We receive a lot of applications, but we've always received a lot of applications," Seas said.
Harvey said the number of applicants New Bremen receives depends on the major. The school receives an over abundance of elementary and high school social studies applications but receives few chemistry, physics - overall sciences - and foreign language teachers.
"That's always how it's been," Harvey said. "The economy hasn't affected it."
Seas said the teaching staff at Coldwater has decreased by 12 positions in the last five years. At the same time, however, student enrollment has decreased from 1,700 to 1,400 so many of the cuts made to the teaching staff would have happened anyway, he said.
"That's doing the fiscally responsible thing," Seas said.
Harvey said the two full-time and four part-time teaching positions eliminated at New Bremen during the last five years may have affected the students to a small degree. However, New Bremen's enrollment also is falling, so some of the deductions would have been made anyway.
Seas and Harvey agree competition between new applicants is tight. Harvey said they recently hired a new physical education teacher who is an Ohioan but has been teaching in the Carolinas for the last few years.
"He had to leave the state to find a job and is excited to be coming back home," she said.