School districts recruit because they want the best teachers in the classroom.

It's a philosophy espoused frequently on the recruitingcircuit, which, for Carroll and most Maryland schools, includes colleges and universities in the state and in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio.

"You're guaranteed to get quality people by recruiting," said Karen Cannon, president of the Mid-Atlantic Association for Staffing of Schools, Colleges and Universities, an organization of about 400 school districts and the sponsor of many job fairs in the region.

"If you sit back and don't recruit, you have to take whatever comes," said Cannon, who also is supervisor of personnel in the Cape Henlopen School District in Lewes, Del. "You get second or third choice or no choice at all -- just a body. We don't believe in that philosophy."

At the Pittsburgh Educational Recruiting Consortium, one of the largest teacher job fairs in the region, 84 school districts, including 15from Maryland, set up booths to recruit prospective teachers from Pennsylvania's colleges and universities.

"We go to places like western Pennsylvania and West Virginia because we know there are no jobs," said William R. Rooney, Carroll's director of personnel. "We know we can get some good teaching candidates there."

For the 1,000 or so prospective candidates who spent the day at the Pittsburgh job fair, there were probably more similarities than differences among the Maryland school districts.

Districts such as Baltimore, Carroll and Frederick passed out folders containing information on the school system, the county, salaries and curriculum.

Some displays and folders were more elaborate than others.

Carroll's, for example, included pictures of its schools, classrooms and county landmarks like the Carroll County Farm Museum. A video about the school system, with comments from Superintendent R. Edward Shilling and South Carroll scienceteacher Robert Foor-Hogue, played on an adjacent table.

Some displays, like that of Charles County, advertised the number of teachers that would be hired in the fall. Carroll and Charles counties both plan to hire about 100 teachers; Howard will take on 200, and Harford about 115.

In addition to folders and applications, prospective teachers carried away key chains, pens, pencils, tote bags and memo padswith school logos.

No matter which job fair they attend, though, Carroll and its neighboring school districts -- which often serve as comparison points for teachers -- employ the same approach to recruiting.

Carroll, for example, spends $10,000 to $12,000 each year to send about 50 recruiters to 50 colleges and universities. The cost includes travel expenses, registration, lodging, meals and materials.

Howard and Carroll send about the same number of recruiters and spend about the same amount on recruitment.

"When the money is good, we try to get fancier brochures," said Albert W. Tucci, Howard's supervisor of human resources.

Harford spends only about one-third of Carroll's allocation for recruitment -- $3,000 to $3,500 each year --and travels to fewer colleges, mostly in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia, said S. Yvonne Blevins, Harford's supervisor of personnel.

In good years, the district expands its recruiting schedule to include stops in Ohio, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina and New York.

"A successful school system has to recruit," she said.

Among the selling points for Maryland districts are their proximity to Baltimore, Washington, the Chesapeake and resorts along the Atlantic. Carroll brochures also tout Gettysburg and "gently rolling hills and rich farmlands."

Another selling point is growth. Most school districts in metropolitan Baltimore, Carroll included, are opening new schools next year. For teachers, new schools mean job stability and advancement.

"We sell the environment of Howard County," Tucci said. "We tell them Howard is a pretty place to live. It has a pleasant and safe environment to teach. And salary benefits have been good."

Teachers' salaries in each of the counties begin around $23,000. Average teachers' salaries range from $39,387 inBaltimore County to $34,898 in Washington County.

Cannon said shedidn't think it was possible not to recruit.

"It's only possible if a district is in a town with a university," she said. "Recruiting is one thing our district thrives on. We want variety. We don't want all our teachers to come here with the same philosophy of education.

"We recruit on the East Coast, where there are students who have been all over the world. We can choose the 20 best of some 600 students we interview."

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