With only about two weeks left before schools open, Baltimore County school officials are holding a job fair today to find educators for some hard-to-fill specialties.
The school system needs about 50 additional teachers for the fall, particularly in math and special education, said Donald A. Peccia, assistant superintendent for human resources and governmental relations.
So far, officials have already hired more than 800 instructors for the fall to fill vacancies among the school system's 8,800 teaching positions.
"We're just looking for a few more people," Peccia said.
Qualified high school math teachers and special education teachers for all grade levels have been invited to the county school system's first Back to School Job Fair.
Finding teachers for world languages might soon become a challenge, too. "There's not an abundance of candidates," Peccia said.
The new school year's first work day for teachers is Aug. 21, with students starting Aug. 28.
More than 600 teachers will not be returning because they resigned, and 181 retired. A few more also might decide not to return before the school year begins, he said.
"We still are having an issue about not being able to keep teachers here," said Cheryl Bost, the president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County.
Salary and workload are key, she added. "We have a high demand for data in this county," Bost said.
The burden is heaviest on special education teachers, she said, who must follow extensive federal, state and local requirements and document actions - sometimes in triplicate.
"It's dissecting every move that a child makes," she said.
Lower caseloads and assigning clerical assistants to help with the paperwork could make a big difference, Bost said.
The school system set aside $37,000 for personnel advertising and foreign recruitment in the operating budget for the fiscal year that started July 1.
Like last year, the school system sought science and special education teachers from the Philippines, Peccia said. Baltimore County sent two of its staffers to the country to work with a recruiter there, he said.
In 2005, county recruiters hired 16 Filipino teachers and six other Filipino teachers who were originally employed to teach in New Orleans but were displaced after Hurricane Katrina. Of those, two left Baltimore County because they were homesick and two others were terminated, Peccia said.
In the fall, nine more Filipino teachers will begin teaching science or special education classes, Peccia said.
County teacher recruiters also traveled to 53 destinations within the U.S., including central Michigan, western New York and through the "Buckeye Bonanza" - a tour of universities in Ohio, Peccia said.
He added that the school system had also made progress in recruiting minority candidates.
"We're looking first and foremost for good teachers," Peccia said. "We also recognize we want our teaching staff and administrative staff to be reflective of the wonderful diversity of Baltimore County."
The job fair will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. today in Room 114 in the ESS building of the Greenwood campus, 6901 Charles St., Towson. School system personnel will interview candidates and will be prepared to offer and sign job contracts. Certification specialists will be on hand to review transcripts.